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CHL Weekend Review: Top Prospects take centre stage

 

All eyes were on Hamilton for the Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game where 40 of the league’s top NHL Draft eligible players put on quite a show.

While the next wave of NHL Draft talent took centre stage in a busy week across the CHL, there was plenty more on and off-ice action from coast-to-coast.

Here’s a look back at that and more news and note from around the league.

Hamilton Hosts Top Prospects

More than 6,400 seats were filled at FirstOntario Centre on Thursday night for the 25th annual NHL Draft showcase of the CHL’s top prospects.  With all eyes on captains Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield, it was forward Tyson Foerster who emerged as the surprise star scoring twice with an assist to lead Team White to victory.

Hometown Hockey in Hamilton

The Top Prospects Game wasn’t the only show in town over the weekend as the community of Ancaster, near Hamilton, hosted Rogers Hometown Hockey.  Three more CHL cities will welcome tour stops in 2020, including Ottawa (Feb. 9), Quebec City (Feb. 16), and Edmonton (March 29).

Knights Retire Patrick Kane’s #88

Patrick Kane made the most of his single season in the CHL earning Rookie of the Year honours in 2006-07 with 145 points including 62 goals and 83 assists in 58 games for the London Knights. He was honoured by the club on Friday night with a ceremony that raised his iconic #88 to the rafters at Budweiser Gardens. The first overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft has won three Stanley Cups as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks and capped an eventful weekend with his 1000th career NHL point.

Giants Honour Scott Bonner

The Vancouver Giants added Scott Bonner to the team’s Wall of Honour on Friday night. Bonner was the first General Manager in Giants history and held the position for 15 seasons (2001-02 through 2015-16) which included a 2006 WHL Championship, 2007 Memorial Cup, and five straight B.C. Division banners from 2006-10.

CIBC Helps Fans Hit Their Goals

The Official Bank of the CHL is celebrating with communities from coast-to-coast with a series of 23 game nights that include the popular ‘Hit Your Goals’ on ice promotion that rewards one lucky fan the opportunity to win $500.

Oil Kings Launch WHL’s Suits Up Campaign

The Edmonton Oil Kings were the first of 17 Canadian clubs in the WHL to sport special edition Hockey Night in Canada inspired sweaters as part of the league’s third ‘Suits Up’ campaign in partnership with RE/MAX and in support of the Kidney Foundation. The first two years of the event has raised more than $460,000 through local jersey auctions.

Smith vs Smith

It was a special moment for the Smith family on Saturday night in Spokane where Chiefs defenceman Ty Smith lined up opposite brother Zack for a ceremonial face-off. Ty, who recently won gold with Canada at the World Junior Championship is in his fourth WHL season, while Zack is currently enjoying his rookie campaign as a member of the Regina Pats. Bragging rights went to Ty and the Chiefs who skated to a 6-2 victory.

Battle of the Billet Brothers

Another set of brothers went head-to-head on Saturday night in Peterborough with a unique twist. Petes captain Zach Gallant billets with the Deline family whose son Ty is a member of the Flint Firebirds. Gallant and the Petes spoiled the homecoming defeating Ty’s Firebirds 2-0 in what was certainly a special night for the Deline family.

300 Games for Kastelic

Calgary Hitmen captain Mark Kastelic became the latest CHL veteran to play in his 300th career game. His WHL tenure has been played entirely with the Hitmen where he’s amassed 207 points including 109 goals and 98 assists.

500 Games for Pouliot

Memorial Cup champion Mario Pouliot adds another milestone to a decorated coaching career reaching the 500 games mark. Now in his second year with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Pouliot became the first coach to win two-straight Memorial Cups with different teams after leading the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to glory in 2018.

McGregor Makes Sting History

Sarnia Sting captain Ryan McGregor also reached an impressive milestone over the weekend by playing in his 268th career OHL game which sets a new franchise mark. During his five-year stretch in Sarnia he’s produced 208 points including 80 goals and 128 assists.

New Captains

Several more clubs have announced changes to their leadership groups following trade deadline activity. The Lethbridge Hurricanes awarded the ‘C’ to co-captains Ty Prefontaine and Dylan Cozens, Conner Bruggen-Cate is the new captain of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Ethan Sakowich was appointed the honour by the Red Deer Rebels, and Jaxan Kaluski will now lead the Swift Current Broncos.

Caring for the Community

Off-ice highlights from around the CHL in the community included the Rimouski Oceanic visiting their local hospital, NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit making new friends in the pediatric intensive care unit at Covenant Saginaw, and the Prince George Cougars who made a special announcement in partnership with Autism BC to provide sensory kits at all home games.

Taste of the Pros

The Flint Firebirds took advantage of a recent trip to the nation’s capital to see what life is like for the Ottawa Senators. Sens coach DJ Smith won a Memorial Cup championship with the Oshawa Generals in 2015 with a staff that included current Firebirds bench boss Eric Wellwood.

Thomas Honoured in Toronto

The gold medal accolades continued for Canadian World Junior hero Akil Thomas who recently attended a Toronto Raptors game and was saluted by his hometown.

Youth Olympics Feature Future CHL Talent

The Youth Olympics are underway in Switzerland with Canada’s men’s hockey team offering a glimpse at the future of our game. 2019 first overall WHL Bantam Draft pick Matthew Savoie of the Winnipeg ICE was recently named captain, while alternates Adam Fantilli and Tristan Luneau are top prospects for the 2020 OHL Priority Selection and the QMJHL Entry Draft. Canada will face the United States in Tuesday’s Semifinal.

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