The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the number of players that will represent each team at the 2017 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, which will be held from February 27-28, 2017 at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, along with the teams’ coaches.
The number of players each NAHL team can to send to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, East, Midwest and South and a special fifth NAHL Selects team, will each play in two game games, is based on each team’s winning percentage within their group as of February 5, 2017.
For the Central Division, the Minot Minotauros (.651) will send five players, the Minnesota Wilderness (.595) will send four, the Brookings Blizzard (.550), Aberdeen Wings (.524) and Austin Bruins (.488) will each send three and the Bismarck Bobcats (.452) will send two. The head coach of the Central team will be Marty Murray from the Minot Minotauros and the assistant coach will be Tim Madsen from the Minnesota Wilderness.
For the East Division, the Aston Rebels (.788) will send five players, the Johnstown Tomahawks (.763) will send four, the New Jersey Titans (.619) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (.523) will each send three and the Northeast Generals (.083) will send two The other players that will join the East team will include two players from the 7th place team in the South, the Topeka RoadRunners (.364), in addition to one more at-large selection, which will finalize the 20 spots. The head coach of the East team will be Joe Coombs from the Aston Rebels and the assistant coach will be Mike Letizia from the Johnstown Tomahawks.
In the Midwest Division, the Janesville Jets (.779) will send five players, the Minnesota Magicians (.619) will send four, the Springfield Jr. Blues (.500), Coulee Region Chill (.462) and Fairbanks Ice Dogs (.453) will each send three and the Kenai River Brown Bears (.262) will send two. The head coach of the Midwest team will be Joe Dibble from the Janesville Jets and the assistant coach will be Scott Meyer from the Minnesota Magicians.
In the South Division, the Lone Star Brahmas (.807) will send five players, the Wichita Falls Wildcats (.625) will send four, the Shreveport Mudbugs (.603), Corpus Christi IceRays (.564) and Odessa Jackalopes (.450) will each send three and the Amarillo Bulls (.415) will send two. The head coach of the South team will be will be Dan Wildfong from the Lone Star Brahmas and the assistant coach will be Josh Nelson from the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament is one of the most highly-scouted events in junior hockey. Last season, over 220 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. It continues to be an important part of the NAHL event model, which includes the NAHL Showcase in September and the NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship in May.
One of the things the NAHL does better than any other junior league is seeing their players earn an NCAA opportunity while playing and being showcased in the NAHL. To date, over 126 players have already made NCAA Division I commitments during the 2016-17 season. The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament plays a big role in that success, with over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament, earning an NCAA Division I opportunity following their participation in the event.
The event continues to provide the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as, some potential NHL Draft picks. The addition of the NTDP takes the competition and exposure to the next level and provides all of the participating players with a great opportunity to showcase their skills.
2017 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament Schedule (subject to change, all times eastern)
Monday, February 27th
1:00pm: Central Division vs. Midwest Division
4:00pm: East Division vs. NAHL Selects
7:00pm: South Division vs. USNTDP
Tuesday, February 28th
11:00am: Midwest Division vs. East Division
2:00pm: Central Division vs. South Division
5:00pm: NAHL Selects vs. USNTDP