BUFFALO -- Center Tyson Jost of Penticton in the British Columbia Hockey League needed just one look at Ralph Engelstad Arena on the campus of the University of North Dakota to know where he wanted to continue his hockey development.
"I went on my visit to North Dakota, 12,000 fans cheering on the [team], it's something that's pretty special," said Jost, a 5-foot-11, 191-pound center ranked No. 16 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. "The facilities they have there, and I think I really connected with the coaching staff. That's just a few things that really stood out to me. I want to play in the NHL and be a Stanley Cup champion, and I think North Dakota can do that for me."
Jost led the BCHL with 62 assists and was third with 104 points in 48 games this season; he was named the league's MVP. Playing for fourth-place Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, he was named the tournament's best forward after leading all players with 15 points in seven games.
He said choosing college hockey rather than the Western Hockey League, where Everett owns his rights, came down to the extra development he feels he'll get from playing a 40-game schedule at North Dakota.
"You have so much room and time to develop in college," Jost said. "You're on the ice every single day, you're in the weight room every single day. You can go on the ice and find extra time to work on the little things like skating, work on things like faceoffs, get stronger, get bigger. That's just something I'm so excited about with going to North Dakota and utilize all the options they give you there to improve as a hockey player. If I can do that I'll have a good chance of becoming an NHL player."
Jost will also get an education, but that's not quite his top priority right now, much to the chagrin of his mother.
"My first year I'm going to take generals," he said. "My goal is to play in the NHL. I know my mom would probably punch me in the arm for this but school is coming second because that is my goal, to play in the NHL. But [a college degree] is very important and it's a huge part of life and it's something I want to have."
Here are a few other intriguing takes from Friday at the combine:
1. Scout's honor: Goaltender Tyler Parsons of London in the Ontario Hockey League might be the biggest beneficiary of winning the Memorial Cup.
Parsons is No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goaltenders, but his play during the four games London won at the tournament might have boosted him past the two goalies ranked ahead of him, Evan Fitzpatrick of Sherbrooke of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Carter Hart of Everett of the Western Hockey League.
"It was a great opportunity for Parsons at the Memorial Cup," Central Scouting's Al Jensen said. "He played well, was consistent and he was on the big stage. As an NHL coach, GM, you want to know if you have a goalie that can produce and stop the puck in big games. That's what you need, and Parsons did. There were times when he didn't get a whole lot of work, but he was there to make the save. And when he was busy he was there."
Parsons (6-1, 184) allowed seven goals in four Memorial Cup games and finished with a .942 save percentage. That came after he led all goalies in the OHL playoffs with a 2.15 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 18 games.
Seeing Parsons come up big in 22 postseason games could be enough to alter some teams' goaltending rankings, especially considering Hart played six WHL playoff games and Fitzpatrick played five in the QMJHL.
"It could change for somebody because it shows obviously that he can play," Jensen said. "He's a great, quality goalie, has a great future ahead of him. ... That [postseason performance] could swing big-time in a positive way for him, for sure."
2. Top underrated prospect: Tyler Benson of Vancouver in the WHL is among the great unknowns heading into the 2016 draft. Injuries limited him to 30 games this season, with two coming after Dec. 30. But when Benson played, he produced at nearly a point per game (28 points in 30 games). He also helped Canada win the gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in August, tying for the team lead with five points in four games.
The biggest issue for Benson was osteitis pubis, which caused inflammation to his groin and hip flexors. He said at its worst it was hard for him to walk. But after months of rest and rehabilitation he said he's feeling better.
"Right now, today, it's the best I've felt all year," he said. "I'm pretty happy about where it's gone so far. I think it's going to be behind me next season."
But the small viewing window makes it tough for scouts to have a handle on what kind of player Benson could be in the future. Central Scouting has the 6-foot, 201-pound left wing No. 24 in its final ranking of North American skaters.
"He has very good hockey sense and great compete," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "He can make plays. He doesn't shy away from tough areas. He's one of those guys that things happen when he's on the ice."
3. Quote of the day: The stationary bike tests are two of the most feared moments of the combine experience for the prospects.
Well, most of the prospects at least.
On Friday, the players went through the VO2 max test, which measures endurance and helps gauge recovery time between shifts. It involves wearing a breathing mask and can leave many future NHL stars lightheaded or sick.
But not defenseman Jakob Chychrun of Sarnia in the OHL.
He finished his ride, walked it off and began pedaling on another bike to wind down. After a shower he had a one-word description of the test: "Fun."
4. Seen and heard: Some of the highlights from the media session Friday with six of the top prospects for the 2016 draft:
Forward Alexander Nylander of Mississauga (OHL) said he'd love a chance to be teammates in the NHL with his brother, Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. "That would be super-special to be drafted by that organization. ... It would be great to play with him. But you never know what can happen in the draft and it doesn't really matter where I go; I'm super excited." ... Pierre-Luc Dubois of Cape Breton said he was proud to be the first QMJHL player to be No. 1 in Central Scouting's final ranking since Sidney Crosby of Rimouski in 2005. "It's pretty special," he said. "I didn't know that until they told me so it was a surprise. It's an honor to represent the QMJHL like that." ... Dubois could go anywhere in the top six in the draft, and likely will be the first Canadian-born player drafted. If he drops out of the top-five it would be the first time since 1999 that a Canadian-born player wasn't taken in the first five picks of the draft. "It would be an honor," Dubois said of being the first Canadian player drafted. "Playing for a huge country like Canada where we always produce great talent, it's just fun. It's motivating." ... Auston Matthews' father played minor-league baseball but he said hockey always has been his passion. "I was always really hockey first," he said. "I'd miss baseball games and practices for hockey, or I'd always show up late. My parents knew that when that time came hockey was going to be the sport I was going to choose." ... Matthew Tkachuk said growing up he watched his father, United States Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk, but that wasn't his only influence. "Being in St. Louis a lot and seeing a guy like Paul Kariya, he always kept himself in good shape to perform on the ice and that's something, watching a guy like that, had an impact," he said.