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Top Prospects event paying dividends

March 20, 2008

Wichita Falls' Luke Salazar will head home to Denver next season to skate for the Pioneers.

It’s only been a month since the first annual NAHL Top Prospects Tournament concluded, and already eight players who participated in the event have secured commitments to play Division I college hockey next season.

St. Louis’ Tom Brooks (Robert Morris), Nick Condon (Notre Dame) and Ben Warda (Michigan State); Fairbanks’ Ryan Kayfes (Bentley) and Brock Shelgren (Michigan State); North Iowa’s Tyler Jundt (Bemidji State) and Robby Moss (St. Lawrence); and Wichita Falls’ Luke Salazar (Denver) all decided on schools after the Top Prospects event, with more expected to follow.

“We knew our Top Prospects Tournament would be well received in the scouting circles, and to see so many of our players afforded opportunities to play at some of the top college programs in the country is outstanding,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld.

The Top Prospects event, which took place Feb. 17-19 at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Mich., showcased the league’s best from the North, South and Central Divisions, along with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, in a three-game, round-robin tournament.

“Events like this are what make the NAHL so unique,” said Frankenfeld.  “Any chance we get to help open doors in terms of expose for our players we’re going to take advantage of, and Top Prospects is a perfect example of that.”

Surrounding the Top Prospects Tournament was the NAHL Midget Showcase Series, which boasted 12 of the top programs in the country.  The event, which was also held at the Ice Cube and won by the Pittsburgh Hornets, naturally attracted an enhanced scouting presence.

“It’s a great way for some of the country’s elite young hockey players to become more familiar with our league while getting them in front of colleges and NHL scouts,” Frankenfeld said of the Midget event.  “That type of exposure can’t be matched.”

To no surprise, the NAHL is again solidifying itself as a prime developer of college recruits.  In all, close to 40 NAHL players have secured Division I deals this season. In addition, 37 players from the NTDP have committed.

Dozens more are expected to make college decisions with the playoffs and the Robertson Cup national championship right around the corner.

“Traditionally, our league’s college list grows later in the season and even the off-season, and this year should be no exception,” said Frankenfeld.  “Our coaches and ownership groups are doing a phenomenal job promoting all of our student-athletes.”

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