Wednesday January 27, 2016
After a full day of travelling for the majority of them, 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible prospects descended on Vancouver on Tuesday in preparation for the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Thursday night.
Players were introduced to their new teammates and met with the media at Pacific Coliseum, the home of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.
“I had an early morning flight but it’s great to be here,” said Team Cherry captain Jakob Chychrun of the Sarnia Sting. “This is the first time I’ve been to Vancouver and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s beautiful.”
Team Orr captain Matthew Tkachuk of the London Knights was equally enthused about his new surroundings.
“It’s a privilege to be here in Vancouver,” he said. “Ever since I found out I was coming to this game and learned that I was on Team Orr and playing for somebody who is so well respected around the NHL and in the hockey world, I’ve been extremely excited. Bobby Orr is the greatest defenceman to have ever played the game and to be able to play for him on Thursday is really an honour.”
34 of the top-60 skaters included in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings will compete in Thursday’s game, making for what’s sure to be an interesting matchup on Thursday night between the two sides.
As for the history between them, Chychrun is well aware of the recent outcomes that have resulted in Team Orr winning five straight dating back to 2010.
“Yeah, we really want this one,” he said with a chuckle. “Five years is too long and it’s time to get back on the winning end. It’s always fun playing with such high-end talent. Hopefully our side can form some chemistry early on and win this thing.”
One the other side of the ice, Tkachuk is confident that when skilled players are involved, things will come together smoothly.
“It’s a tough thing that we don’t really have a full practice together,” he noted, “but we can make do with some time together off the ice and a morning skate. Good players can mix well with anybody so it shouldn’t be too big of an issue so long as everyone is willing to work together and play as a team.”
Of the 40 CHL players competing in Thursday’s game, the OHL leads the way with 20 participants while the WHL will feature 12 players competing and the QMJHL will have eight representatives.
The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is returning to Vancouver for the first time since 2005 when Giants star Gilbert Brule put on a performance for the memory books, scoring the only hat-trick in the history of the event to lead Team Cherry to an 8-4 win over Team Davidson.
With the 21st edition of the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game right around the corner, the time for the CHL’s brightest young stars to take centre stage has arrived.
Both teams will undergo on and off-ice testing on Wednesday along with interviews with participating media before Thursday’s big game that gets underway at 6:00pm PST/9:00pm EST. The game can be seen live across the country on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and in the United States on NHL Network.
For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit www.bmotopprospects.ca.
By Josh Sweetland/CHL