PLYMOUTH, Mich. – It was advertised as a match-up of future NHL superstars – and it certainly didn’t disappoint the 3,412 fans at Compuware Arena on Monday afternoon.
The game pitted Ontario Hockey League rivals Windsor and Plymouth, and more importantly, perhaps, a trio of potential first-round draft picks – the Spitfires’ Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler, and the Whalers’ Tyler Seguin.
Hall, Seguin and Fowler continue to hold the top three spots among North American players in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s rankings. Hall and Seguin are forwards, and Fowler is a defenseman.
But Monday was Seguin’s day, as the 18-year-old forward led the home team to a 7-4 victory. Seguin, of Brampton, Ontario, had the game’s first and last goals, and also picked up an assist. His three-point effort moved him into first-place in the OHL scoring race with 71 points – one ahead of Hall.
“When it comes down to it, it’s just a total team effort,” Seguin said. “Last year, we really had some bad blood against Windsor – they’re our rivals – and last year they knocked us out of the playoffs, so this year we’re trying to change it.”
Seguin opened the scoring six minutes into the first period, racing past the Windsor defense, and scoring on a backhand. His second goal was an empty-netter with 14-seconds left.
“I just kind of went wide, deked around the defense,” Seguin said. “I saw the other far side, went to the backhand, shot it as hard as I could, and luckily it went in.”
Plymouth put the game out of reach in the second period, building a 6-2 lead on four straight goals. All four goals involved Los Angeles prospect Robbie Czarnik, who scored a pair and assisted on the other two tallies.
It was a frustrating night for Hall, who was held to one assist. Windsor’s leading scorer received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty halfway through the opening period, when he was arguing for a call after his stick was broken. Then, in the second, he had a goal disallowed when a fight broke out at the other end.
“It was a tough game,” Hall said. “Anytime we come to Plymouth it’s tough, and we were a little bit short-staffed tonight and I think it kind of showed.”
The three prospects said, that while they try to avoid outside disruptions, like rankings and the media, it’s still in the back of their minds.
“If you think about it too much, I think that stuff is all going to get to you,” Seguin said. “I think that happens to me sometimes, but I mean, I just try to keep that stuff in the back of my head, and go out there and play my game.”
Seguin said that meeting Hall at Canada’s World Juniors summer camp was kind of therapeutic, and helped him deal with his current situation.
“The first time I met Taylor was at the World Juniors camp,” Seguin said. “He’s a good guy. We kind of joked around about some of the media stuff, some of the Taylor vs. Tyler stuff, and it was all fun. But when we’re out on the ice, we’re just doing our business, and playing our roles.”
Hall said he is trying to ignore the upcoming draft storylines.
“I’m sure it’s in the back of our heads, but speaking for myself,” he said, “I’m just trying to help the Spitfires win. All that (other) stuff will take care of itself.”