QUEBEC CITY -- The kids came to play on Monday night, as Team Cherry beat Team Orr 7-5 at the CHL Top Prospects Game. After a moment of silence for the victims of the Sunday terrorist attack on a local mosque, action kicked off at the palatial Centre Videotron. And while captains Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier had their moments, a generous swath of other players made impacts on the big stage. Patrick had two assists for the winning Cherry squad, while Hischier was named Team Orr’s player of the game with three points.
“It was a lot of fun to play out there,” Hischier said. “Lots of speed, lots of intensity. My linemates helped me a lot and we had good chemistry really quickly.”
Hischier’s best moment came on a breakaway goal coming off a Patrick turnover. Patrick redeemed himself with an excellent pass to Owen Tippett on the game-winner.
Let’s take a look at 10 other players who impressed me in the game.
Henri Jokiharju, D– Portland Winterhawks (WHL): The player of the game for Team Cherry, Jokiharju dished out three assists, proving to be the offensive defenseman scouts see him as. He definitely needs to get stronger because he’s not very big, but the Finnish national uses a quick, active stick to defend effectively.
Kole Lind, RW– Kelowna Rockets (WHL): Lind’s line with Cody Glass and Michael Rasmussen had long stretches of dominance and the Rockets upstart was adept at both creating chances for his linemates and getting off his own wicked shot.
Antoine Crete-Belzile, D– Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL): Many times during the game I would see a defenseman make a great play in his own zone, only to look down at my scoresheet and see that, yet again, it was Crete-Belzile. He definitely has great shutdown capabilities.
Sasha Chmelevski, C – Ottawa 67s (OHL): Chmelevski has incredible poise and patience with the puck, which can make him a deadly offensive player. The 67s star demonstrated that on his first-period goal, where he waited out a defender and then wired a shot top corner on goalie Ian Scott.
Michael Rasmussen, C– Tri-City Americans (WHL): There’s a lot to like in the solid, 6-foot-5 center and it was all on display in Quebec. Rasmussen had a nice goal off a beautiful backhand pass from Glass, but the big pivot also made use of his quick hands in the first period, chasing down a puck carrier and snatching the biscuit away from behind.
Owen Tippett, RW– Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): Some scouts see Tippett as a bit one-dimensional, even though “goal scorer” is a pretty good dimension to have. So it was nice to see a more rounded game from the right winger – and the goal and two points didn’t hurt, either.
Maxime Comtois, LW– Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL): Production has been underwhelming for Comtois this season, but he showed up to play in Quebec. The big left winger had a goal for Team Cherry, but he was also a physical force for much of the contest.
Conor Timmins, D– Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL): Great puck movement and a nice first pass are hallmarks of Timmins’ game, while he also impressed with his poise. Timmins has the ability to settle the play down in the defensive end – perhaps an underappreciated virtue.
Stuart Skinner, G – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): The most successful netminder of the night, Skinner gave up just one goal on 18 shots and couldn’t be blamed on the scramble that caused the one blemish. Otherwise, the 6-foot-4 stopper takes up a lot of net and uses that to his advantage.
Antoine Morand, C – Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL): Not blessed with size, Morand makes up for it with dogged work and determination. He used his quick hands to get a goal in the first period, then went to work on the other side of the puck in the third, using his active stick to defuse a scoring opportunity.