Calgary, AB – Team Orr scored a 4-3 victory over Team Cherry in the 2014 BMO CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday night before a crowd of 11,631 at the Saddledome in Calgary, AB.
Jared McCann of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds broke a 3-3 deadlock 16:31 into the third period, ripping a shot past Plymouth Whalers’ netminder Alex Nedeljkovic to give Team Orr a lead they wouldn’t relinquish..
“Kind of a storybook ending,” said McCann, who took home Player of the Game honors for Team Orr with his game-winning effort. “I was just excited to come here and play my game tonight, and I think I did that.”
Brendan Lemieux of the Barrie Colts, Blake Clarke of the Saginaw Spirit also scored for Team Cherry while Josh Ho-Sang of the Windsor Spitfires had a goal and an assist. Kootenay Ice forward Sam Reinhart and Nikolay Goldobin of the Sarnia Sting each picked up a goal and an assist for Team Cherry, who also got a marker from Michael Dal Colle of the Oshawa Generals in what was a hard-played, physical and temperamental affair.
“It was another great hockey experience,” said Team Orr captain Aaron Ekblad, who tallied a pair of assists in the win. “There’s an intensity with showing your stuff, and no one wants to be embarrassed out there.”
A scoreless first period wasn’t without its share of action and scoring chances. Mason McDonald of the Charlottetown Islanders had to be particularly sharp early for Team Orr, getting across to stop a one-timer from Red Deer’s Conner Bleackley off a 2-on-1 chance less than two minutes in.
Reinhart also had some golden opportunities in the opening frame, ringing a shot off the post.
“It was a good experience…It’s definitely an important one to play well in,” said Reinhart. “It is just one game, and now I’m sure guys will focus and hopefully carry over that confidence to their Club teams.”
Prince George’s Ty Edmonds may not have faced as much work in the first, but still came up with key stops on Brendan Perlini of the Niagara Ice Dogs and Calgary’s Jake Virtanen.
The goals didn’t come until midway through the second frame. Lemieux opened the scoring on a Team Orr power play. After Aaron Ekblad and Leon Draisaitl hit the post in quick succession, the puck came back to Julius Honka at the point, and his shot hit Lemieux in front of the net and trickled past Edmonds.
Before the goal announcement could even be made, however, Team Cherry tied it up. Off the ensuing faceoff, Dal Colle scored on the rush, firing home a perfectly placed wrist shot just eight seconds after the game-opener.
Team Orr converted yet another power play chance, with Carke firing home a quick wrist shot that beat Alex Nedeljkovic on the short side right under the crossbar.
Team Cherry nearly tied it shortly after, but Dal Colle, gunning for his second of the period, rang his hard shot off the crossbar.
Team Orr immediately took the puck the other way and Josh Ho-Sang put them up by two, showing good hand-eye coordination as he batted the puck in our of mid-air after Brayden Point’s shot attempt tipped off the defender’s stick.
Team Cherry pulled within one goal early in the third frame as Sarnia Sting forward Nikolay Goldobin scored on a wraparound 4:07 in.
“I’m pretty happy, but I can play better,” said Goldobin, who was Team Cherry’s Player of the Game. “You get the best players in the CHL, and it’s a fun experience.”
Team Cherry knotted the game at 3-3 with six minutes to go, courtesy of a power play marker from their captain. Reinhart banged home a perfect cross-crease pass from Goldobin after some good pressure in Team Orr’s zone.
The deadlock wouldn’t last though as Team Orr responded just 2:38 later as McCann of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds ripped a shot past Nedeljkovic.
GAME NOTES: Goaltender Ty Edmonds made 16 saves on 17 shots through the first half of the game for Team Cherry, while Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 13 of 16 shots while taking the loss…Netminder Mason McDonald made 15 saves on 16 shots through the first 29:08 of the game, while Julio Billia made 17 save on 19 shots, claiming the victory for Team Orr…Billia stopped Goldobin on a penalty shot attempt 5:29 into the third period…Julius Honka of the Swift Current Broncos picked up two assists for Team Orr, but had to leave the game in the third period after taking a stick to the face…Team Cherry’s Jacob Middleton and Team Orr’s Aaron Haydon engaged in a spirited tilt in the opening period…Team Orr finished 2-for-3 on the power play while Team Cherry was 1-for-3 on the man advantage.
For more on the 2014 BMO CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game, visit www.bmotopprospects.ca