Wednesday January 6, 2016
By Josh Sweetland/CHL
The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game returns to Vancouver on January 28th for the first time since 2005, a game where the local star was the best player in the building.
Gilbert Brule, who played his entire career as a member of the Vancouver Giants from 2002-06, treated an event-record 16,331 fans at the Pacific Coliseum to a night to remember as he scored the first and only hat-trick in BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game history while adding an assist to lead Team Cherry to an 8-4 victory over Team Davidson.
The Edmonton, AB, native was joined by current day NHL talent in 2015 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price (Tri-City Americans) and Edmonton Oilers forward Benoit Pouliot (Sudbury Wolves) on Team Cherry.
Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan (Owen Sound Attack), Nashville Predators forward James Neal (Plymouth Whalers), New York Rangers rearguard Marc Staal (Sudbury Wolves) and Detroit Red Wings blueliner Jakub Kindl (Kitchener Rangers) were on the opposite bench for Team Davidson.
Even though his Top Prospects Game performance was among the best of all-time, Brule’s major junior accolades went beyond a single game and he may be remembered as one of the more dominant players to come through the Canadian Hockey League in the past decade.
During his CHL career he produced 185 points (87-98–185) over 165 career WHL regular season games from 2002-06, and remains etched in the Giants franchise record book for most points in a postseason when his 30 points (16-14–30) in 18 games helped lead them to their only WHL title to date.
Drafted sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, injuries unfortunately hampered the fleet-footed forward through the early stages of his pro career as he suffered a cracked sternum and a broken leg.In addition to three years spent with the Columbus organization, Brule also spent time in Edmonton and Phoenix before going to Russia where he plays in the KHL today. Brule has played in 299 career NHL games, recording 43 goals and 52 assists for 95 points.
Mired in a five-year drought without a win since 2010, Team Cherry is very much in need of another young star to come along and lift them to victory in Vancouver later this month.
Rosters for the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game are set to be released on Thursday January 7, 2016.