5 things learned from CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

Firkus (5-foot-10, 153 pounds), a right wing with Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League, was named player of the game for White. He’s a projected second-round pick in the 2022 draft.

“I just want to show my game and I think I played my game tonight, so I’m happy,” Firkus said. “I’m happy to show that I can do it on a big stage. I think it went good, and I’m even happier we got the win.”

Shane Wright, No. 1 on Central Scouting’s midterm ranking, scored and was named player of the game for Red.

Jake Karabela (No. 61) had a goal and an assist, and Nathan Gaucher (No. 16) scored for White. Tyler Brennan (No. 1 North American goalies) allowed one goal on four shots, and Mason Beaupit (No. 7 North American goalies) made 16 saves.

Ivan Zhigalov (No. 2 North American goalies) allowed three goals on 13 shots, and Reid Dyck (No. 26 North American goalies) made 23 saves for Red.

Here are 5 things learned from the 2022 Top Prospects Game:

Wright on the mark

Wright, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, also went 6-for-12 (50 percent) on face-offs for Red.

“It was a lot of fun meeting all the guys and building those relationships with guys I may not have known in the past or may not have crossed paths with before, so it’s been a great week,” Wright said. “It’s definitely something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”

The 18-year-old (6-0, 185) of Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League missed a golden opportunity 40 seconds into the first period when he shot wide of the right post on a breakaway, but he converted a 2-on-1 with Danny Zhilkin (No. 27).

“My mindset was it was just another hockey game, so I was just going out and enjoying every second of it and soaking it all in,” Wright said. “I don’t think it was nerves [on the early miss]. It just wasn’t a great play by me. Anytime you score a goal it feels good and getting that first one felt extra special.”

Wright is 11th in the OHL with 77 points (25 goals, 52 assists) in 52 games and has scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in his past six games.

Zhilkin proves versatility

Zhilkin has proven not only to be effective on offense but on defense when needed in a pinch for Guelph.

“I actually played defense against Kitchener [on Sunday]. We had some injuries, so coach wanted me to play defense, so I played it all game,” Zhilkin said. “It was a bit of an adjustment, but I made it work.”

Zhilkin (6-0, 183) was named the game’s third star. He has scored 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) and eight power-play goals in 54 games this season.

“I think skating is one of my top assets,” he said. “If you can skate backwards and forwards, you can play pretty much anywhere.”

Luneau commends Gascon’s work ethic

Tristan Luneau (6-1, 175; No. 10), who was an assistant captain for Team White, said contributing to a part of history when teammate Eve Gascon became the third female to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when she started in goal for Gatineau against Rimouski before 4,700 fans in Gatineau on Saturday is a moment the team will never forget.

“We like the way she fought; she gave us a chance to win that game,” the right-shot defenseman said. “Obviously, we had a full house. While it would have been sweeter with a win, it was just fun times, and I bet she’ll remember that for a long time, for sure.”

Gascon, who is 18 years old, made 18 saves in a 5-4 loss after being called up from the Saint-Laurent Patriotes, a Cegep men’s hockey team.

“It was amazing to see her work ethic,” Luneau said. “We’ve tried to make her comfortable, show her what the culture is like and what we’re trying to create in Gatineau. It’s been great.”

European invasion

Four skaters in the game played outside North America last season.

Forward Matyas Sapovaliv (6-3, 178; No. 13) of Saginaw (OHL) spent last season with three different teams in Czechia. The highest-ranked player participating in his first season in North America, born in Kladno, Czechia, has scored 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 57 games.

Zhigalov (6-3, 163) of Minsk, Belarus, played three games for Dynamo Moscow in Russia’s minor hockey league and eight games with the Belarus Under-18 Team before joining Sherbrooke (QMJHL) this season.

Forward Vinzenz Rohrer (5-10, 160; No. 46) of Ottawa (OHL) played 26 games for Switzerland’s Under-17 team and 22 games for GCK Lions Under-20 team last season. The right-handed shot from Feldkirch, Austria, has scored 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists) in 55 OHL games.

Forward Ruslan Gazizov (5-11, 185; No. 62) of Omsk, Russia, played 13 games with Yastreby in Russia’s minor league and has scored 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 43 games with London (OHL) this season.

Savoie aces on-ice tests

Matt Savoie (No. 3) finished first in four of 10 on-ice categories that allowed players the opportunity to showcase their individual strengths while gauging their fitness and skill levels among their peers for NHL management and scouts.

The right-shot center for Winnipeg (WHL) placed first in transition agility, reaction with puck, weave agility with puck and the 30-meter forward skate with puck.

“It’s always a good benchmark to see the test results and to be at the top of the list,” Savoie said. “It’s pretty good and pretty humbling. I’m just looking to keep improving and keep getting in better shape.

“I probably [felt most comfortable] in the 30-meter skate with the puck. I feel pretty comfortable handling the puck, so I was definitely comfortable with that one.”

Rohrer (5-10, 160; No. 46) finished second in the on-ice testing, Sudbury center David Goyette (5-10, 172; No. 35) was third and London defenseman Isaiah George (6-0, 195; No. 42) was fourth.

Wright finished fifth overall, placing first in transition agility with puck and weave agility, and fourth in weave agility with puck.

NHL.com deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman contributed to this report

 

 

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