Plenty of offense and scouts on final day of NAHL Top Prospects
March 1, 2018
The final day of the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament took place on Wednesday, February 28th at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. After an exciting and emotional Day 1 of the event on Tuesday, the teams, scouts, and fans were in for even a bigger treat on the second day.
With over 220+ NCAA, NHL, and other college and junior scouts checking in, the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament once again proved that it is a vital and 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, 167 players have already made NCAA Division I commitments during the 2017-18 season, and that number is sure to skyrocket after this year’s event.
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.
Results from Wednesday, February 28th
NAHL Selects Red 4 vs. South 3 (OT) – Despite a valiant 3rd period comeback from the South Division, NAHL Selects Red took home the 4-3 overtime win thanks to two goals, including the OT-winner from Aberdeen Wings forward and RPI recruit Jonathan Bendorf. After a scoreless 1st period, NAHL Selects Red seemingly took control of the game with three goals in the 2nd period, which included goals from Josh Boyer (Brookings Blizzard), Jon Russell (Lone Star Brahmas), and Bendorf. The South stormed back in the 3rd period thanks to three goals in an 11 minute span from Alex Peterson (Amarillo Bulls) and two goals from Peyton Frantti (Odessa Jackalopes). Less than a minute into the overtime, Bendorf was set up by Wings teammate Joe Strada for the game-winner as he poked home a loose rebound. NAHL Selects Red goalie Mitchell Gibson (Lone Star Brahmas) stopped all 13 shots that came his way, while Ryan Ullan (Bismarck Bobcats) stopped 17 of 20 shots. For the South Division, Brett Epp (Odessa Jackalopes) stopped all 8 shots he saw, while Emil Gransoe (Topeka RoadRunners) made 15 saves on 19 shots. Boxscore
Midwest 4 vs. Central 1 – With the South losing the game before, the Midwest vs. Central match-up would decide the winner of the event, as both teams won their opening game. After a scoreless 1st period, which featured some great goaltending by the Midwest’s Josh Benson (Fairbanks) and the Central’s Samu Lonkila (Minot Minotauros), the scoring got started early in the 2nd period as the Central took a 1-0 lead on a highlight reel goal from Evan Cholak (Austin Bruins). The Midwest then stormed back with two goals later in the 2nd period from Ethan Stewart (Springfield Jr. Blues) and Brendan Skarda (Minnesota Magicians) on the power play to take over the lead at 2-1. In the 3rd period, Stewart added his second goal of the game and third of the event and Caleb Hite (Fairbanks Ice Dogs) also scored to make it a 4-1 final. Benson picked up the win, playing the entire game and making 16 saves, while Lonkila stopped all 15 shots he saw and Ryan Fanti (Minnesota Wilderness) stopped 13 of 17 shots. Boxscore
East 6 vs. NAHL Selects White 4 – In the nightcap, the East erased a 4-2 deficit with four goals in the 3rd period to defeat the NAHL Selects White team, 6-4. NAHL Selects White got things going early as they jumped out a 2-0 lead thanks to goals Bentley recruit and Janesville Jets forward Jakov Novak and Kyler Grundy (Minnesota Magicians). The East cut into the lead thanks to a couple of goals from Mike Egan (Northeast Generals) and Curtis Carlson (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights), but a goal from Selects White forward and Colorado College recruit Sam Renlund make the score 3-2. Novak would then add another goal, his second of the game and third of the event in the 2nd period off a one-time blast to make it 4-2. The East then erupted for four goals in the final seven minutes of the contest and they got goals from Aaron Maguyon (Philadelphia Rebels), Michael Morrissey (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights), Matt Kidney (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights), and Roman Kraemer (Johnstown Tomahawks). In goal, Aberdeen Wings goalie Gabe Vinal stopped all 9 shots that came his way for the East, while Brandon Perrone (New Jersey Titans) made 8 saves. For NAHL Selects White, Daniel Lebedeff (Janesville Jets) got the start and made 19 saves, while Jurja Ovecka (Springfield Jr. Blues) made 12 saves in his half of the game. Boxscore