TRAVERSE CITY -- It didn't look good for the Red Wings prospects when Riley Damiani scored at 5:25 of the third period to give the Dallas Stars prospects a 4-2 lead in Tuesday night's championship game at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.
But as they have done the whole tournament, when it appeared the Wings were on the verge of collapse, they kicked it into another gear and found a way to win.
Actually, the Wings trailed in all four games they played during the prospect tournament, yet they finished with a 3-0-1 record to capture the organization's second NHL Prospect Tournament title.
The only other year the Red Wings have won the tournament was 2013.
On Tuesday, Detroit's comeback was sparked by its resiliency and its incredibly potent power play.
Once Damiani put the Stars up by two, the Red Wings scored four consecutive goals to take a 6-4 lead, but the determined Stars, with goalie Jake Oettinger pulled, narrowed the Wings' lead to one when John Nyberg scored at 19:12 of the third.
However, the Red Wings held on behind the solid play of netminder Sean Romeo to defeat the Stars, 6-5, before a partisan Detroit crowd.
Joe Veleno continued his hot hand, scoring two goals, one on the power play; Givani Smith also netted a pair; and Gregor MacLeod (power play) and Ryan Kuffner each added a single tally.
The Red Wings scored 24 goals in four games to lead the tournament in goals scored, but it was their prowess on the power play which led them to the title.
Detroit was 9-of-19 with the man-advantage for a torrid success rate of 47.37 percent.
Several Wings players were among the tournament leaders in several categories, but it was the Red Wings team-first mindset which allowed them to overcome each adversity they faced.
Many of the prospects will have a couple of days to rest until Detroit's training camp begins Friday at Centre Ice.
And for those players who played their final game in a Detroit uniform on Tuesday, they leave a legacy as a champion.
1. Givani Smith: Smith has come a long way since he turned pro before last season. Smith admitted in his blog on DetroitRedWings.com, Powering Forward, that he had a lot to learn, both on and off the ice, last season. Smith has been able to take all of those experiences and apply them during this year's prospect tournament. With the Wings in a 4-2 hole in the third period Tuesday, coach Ben Simon moved Smith up to the top line with Veleno and Taro Hirose and saw it pay immediate dividends. Smith was on the ice when Veleno tied the game on the power play at 11:02 and when Veleno scored the go-ahead goal at 12:52. At 17:28, Veleno fed Smith for a breakaway and Smith buried it for what proved to be the game and tournament-winning goal. Earlier in the game, Smith scored at 15:19 of the second as the Wings took a brief 2-1 lead. Smith finished the tournament tied for second in points with six with teammate Chase Pearson and Columbus' Alexandre Texier. Smith ended up tied for third in overall shots with 15 with teammate Zadina and Toronto's Nicholas Robertson.
Quotable: "The Red Wings drafted me because they know what I can bring to the table, that's me being physical, that's me going hard to the net, picking my teammate up. I'm a team guy, so if that helped the boys get sparked a little bit, that's a pat on back a little bit for myself. It means a lot. Coming into the summer, my whole mindset, my goal is to do my best and put my best foot forward and obviously have the goal of making the team this year. This is just part of the summer, part of the camp that we excelled in and I did good. I want to keep it going." -- Smith
Quotable II: "He was playing well and you reward guys when they're playing well. Texas had some big, heavy defensemen, some big forwards and we were dumping the puck in but we weren't protecting it very well. Givani is a big body, he's strong and that's why we put him out there, to hold onto pucks and let Veleno and Hirose do their thing and other guys played heavy as well." -- Ben Simon, Detroit prospect tournament and Grand Rapids Griffins coach
Quotable III: "I think he's just a big boy. He's got some skill. He works hard in the corners, skates well and guys are scared of him, so he's always got the puck. He makes room for the guys on his line. When we have time and space with the puck, it's always nice. He opens the game up for us a lot." -- Veleno
2. Joe Veleno: There's no question that Veleno proved to have the Midas Touch throughout this prospect tournament. He started with two power-play goals in each of the first two games and added an empty-net goal in the third game. With the Wings down 4-3 in the third, it was Veleno who scored two goals within 1:50, one on the power play and one unassisted on a bad angle, to give the Wings a 5-4 lead. Veleno's seven goals were first overall in the tournament. The next closest players had four each. Veleno sprung Smith for a breakaway at 17:28 of the third, which proved to be vital as the Stars scored a late goal with the extra attacker. Veleno, who had a dominant season for the QMJHL's Drummondville Voltigeurs last year, finished tied with teammate Kuffner for the tournament points lead with eight. Veleno had seven points (2-5-7) in last year's prospect tournament. Veleno finished second to Dallas' Joel Kiviranta in shots, 19-17.
Quotable: "I think it means a lot, not just for us but for the organization. I know they haven't won in a couple of years. It was nice to finally have the championship under our belt and lead it into next tournament for whoever's here. I know points are nice and all but I think playing the right way and winning hockey games is what matters most at the next level. I found a way to contribute and obviously it's good but I think it's a better feeling to win." -- Veleno
Quotable II: "Joe played well. Credit to Joe. We talked about it throughout the week here, he put the time in this summer and you're just kind of seeing the fruits of his labor happen this week. He's had to work for the opportunities he's had. Joe realizes he's not going to be given anything, he's going to have to work for it and I think that's his biggest attribute. You look and you see he's a pretty skilled hockey player but I don't think people realize how hard of a worker he is and kind of a character player he is." -- Simon
Quotable III: "It's unreal. He's playing really well. He's confident and just a good player. He's getting to the right spots and capitalizing. That's all you can ask for. I'm happy for him." -- Kuffner
3. Ryan Kuffner: When the Red Wings signed Kuffner as a free agent out of Princeton University last March 12, Kuffner was the school's all-time leading goal scorer with 75 in 132 games. He also led the entire country in points per game last season at 1.419. Yet when Kuffner joined the Wings for 10 games at the end of the regular season, Kuffner never found the scoresheet. But Kuffner, who remained in metro Detroit all summer to work out with his fellow prospects, remained confident in his abilities. During development camp, Kuffner was able to score and he showed off his scoring prowess again during the prospect tournament, including an unassisted goal at 8:41 of the third that helped the Wings draw to within one. Kuffner scored in every game except the 7-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday and finished tied with Veleno for first in points with eight. He was tied with another teammate, Zadina, for first in assists with five.
Quotable: "I told a couple of guys in the third I was just going to try to find them around the net, or get it in the slot. I got a lucky bounce. They were both right there. Just getting pucks to the net was huge. It's unbelievable. It's so fun to be a part of. It's a great group, all good buddies and it was just fun even if it was just five days only. It was just so fun. I think the way we battled back every game was so fun. You can't really ask for much more." -- Kuffner
Quotable II: "I knew Kuffner a little bit from development camp. He's a fun kid. Obviously you have to be somewhat smart to be in Princeton. He's an infectious kid, he's got a good personality to him. He's got a heck of a shot, you can see that in practice and on the ice, he's got one heck of a release on his shot. So hopefully you'll continue to see that at the next levels." -- Simon