The fifth annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game took place Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
There were a total of 42 prospects that were split into two teams. One team was coached by former Philadelphia Flyers forward and US Hockey Hall of Famer, John LeClair. The other team was coached by former Flyers’ defenseman and U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer, Mark Howe. The game was played in Philadelphia for the first time in its five year history as part of the Flyers 50th Anniversary season. The game is meant to put a spotlight on some top U.S.-born prospects eligible for the 2017 Entry Draft.
Team LeClair defeated Team Howe by a score of 6-4. Team LeClair did have two penalties in the game, but Team Howe couldn’t capitalize on those chances. Team LeClair made the best of its opportunities scoring on six of its 21 shots, while Team Howe only scored on four of its 31 shots. While four players for Team LeClair were a minus for the game; nine of the prospects on Team Howe finished even or a plus player for the game.
The name of the game Thursday night was offense, which was to be expected since most of the prospects are known for their offensive skills. There were 10 goals scored between the two teams. There were some nice defensive plays and the prospects weren’t afraid to throw their weight around at times that night as well. All four of the goalies saw time between the pipes since there were scouts at the game.
Adam Scheel, who plays for the USNTDP team of the USHL, started the game for Team Howe and allowed three goals on the seven shots that he faced in about 30:00 of action. Team LeClair decided to start Jake Oettinger, a Boston University commit, who stopped 12 of the 14 shots he faced in a little over 30:00 of ice time. Keith Petruzzelli, who currently plays for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, had the tougher of the two goalies for Team Howe. He faced 14 shots and stopped 11 of them. He made some really solid saves on during his time in net with some highlight reel stops while some were just because he was in the right position to make them. Cayden Primeau, of the USHL Lincoln Stars and a Northeastern University commit, stopped 17 of the 19 shots he faced last night, and seemed to be square to the shooter most of the night, but he did allow a few big rebounds.
The top line of Patrick Khodorenko (Michigan State University commit), Casey Mittelstadt (University of Minnesota commit), and Kailer Yamamoto (playing with the WHL Spokane Chiefs) looked really good last night. The trio seemed to have extended time in the offensive zone almost every shift. They seemed to be around the puck all night long. If they didn’t actually have the puck then the trio was willing to work to get it, making a play to either clear the defensive zone or make something out of nothing in the offensive zone. It led to Mittelstadt finishing with two goals on the night, whie Yamamoto had two assists. Mittelstadt would eventually get Player of the Game honors.
Team LeClair didn’t have one specific player stand out, but made it a team effort. Yes, Brannon McManus had a goal and two assists but he did it quietly. Primeau had a decent night in goal. The team just seemed more in sync and their passes were crisper than those by Team Howe. There were things to work on, for both teams, but then no team ever plays a perfect hockey game. The difference was that Team LeClair looked like they’d been playing together all season long.
Team LeClair jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period, but allowed Team Howe to tie the game with just over 17 seconds left in the second period. The game was 3-3 going into the third, but then Team LeClair just took the game back and Team Howe didn’t have enough to get back in the game.
Both teams put on a show for the crowd while the players showed off their abilities for the scouts in attendance.