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Central defeats North to win NAHL Top Prospects Tournament

February 22, 2012

The 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament came to a close on Wednesday and the day provided even more drama and exceptional play from all players involved.  It started with a tight defensive battle between the South and the West.  It continued with the Midwest and the NAHL 18U Selects giving it their all.  It ended in dramatic fashion with the Central and the North battling in the final game to finish the Tournament undefeated and the right to be called NAHL Top Prospects Champions.  Here is a look at the Day 3 summary:

South 1 vs. West 0 – In a tight checking game that featured just 36 combined shots, the South got a late 1st period goal from Taylor Herndon (Texas) to edge the West, 1-0.  Herndon, who tied for the most goals (3) and points (5) in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, was set up for the lone marker of the game by Texas teammate Jordan Greenberg and Amarillo Bulls forward TJ Sarcona.  The rest of the game was dominated by the goaltenders on both sides.  Amarillo’s Gregg Gruehl, who finished as the Top Prospects top goaltender, only allowed one goal in over 88 minutes of play.  Both he and Peter Traber (Topeka) shared in the shutout, while Wenatchee’s Greg Lewis was stellar as well stopping 19 of 20 shots as he played the entire game.  Boxscore

Midwest 5 vs. NAHL 18U Selects 1 – The Midwest team picked up their first win of the Top Prospects Tournament by defeating the 18U Selects, 5-1.  St. Louis Bandits forward Stephen Bopp had a big day, picking up a goal and two assists and fellow Bandits teammate Cody Ganchar had a goal and assist as did Springfield’s Josef Pontasch.  The teams traded goals in the first period with Drew Slaton (St. Louis) scoring for the Midwest and Jude Warner (Amarillo) scoring the 18U Selects.  After that, it was all Midwest as they outshot the Selects, 43-29.  Springfield’s Gavin Tufte scored to make it 2-1, which was followed by Bopp’s goal midway through the game to make it 3-1.  Ganchar and Pontasch both scored in the 3rd period to make it a 5-1 final.  Tomas Sholl (Fresno) played the entire game for the Selects making 38 saves, while Tony Kujava (Janesville) and Aaron Davis (Coulee Region) split the time between the pipes for Midwest combining to make 28 saves. Boxscore

Central 5 vs. North 2 – In a match-up of undefeated teams to determine the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Champion, it was a three-goal 3rd period which led the Central to a 5-2 win over the North.  The Central would finish as the only undefeated team in the Tournament at 3-0, while North dropped their first game of the event, finishing with a 2-1 record alongside the South.  Mike Moroso (Port Huron) scored the first goal of the game for the North.  It was Moroso’s 3rd goal of the event, which tied for the tournament lead.  However, the Central struck for three goals in the 2nd period to blow the game wide open.  Aberdeen’s Cory Ward tied the game 1-1 as Wings teammate Lane Mahoney and Christian Folin (Austin) picked up assists.  Just :22 seconds later it was Minot’s Jadin Martin scoring with assists to Bryce Schmitt (Bismarck) and Brandon Wahlin (Austin).  Schmitt and Wahlin would set up the 3rd Central goal just :18 seconds later as Alexandria’s Charlie Aus lit the lamp.  After Brock Raffaele (Kalamazoo) scored to make it 3-2, Bismarck’s Buster Hebda scored twice in the 3rd period to put the game out of reach and give the Central team the title.  Tyler Bruggeman (Austin) and Tommy Burke (Bismarck) each gave up a goal in the Central win, while Peter Megariotis (Port Huron) gave up three goals and Jamestown’s Joe Ballmer gave up one goal in the loss.  Boxscore

Stay tuned for a complete Top Prospects wrap-up including event summary and video highlights of each day.

Top Prospects scoring leaders

Top Prospects goaltending leaders

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