By Paul Krotz / OHL
The Ontario Hockey League has a rich history of success at the NHL Draft and led the way in 2012 with 48 players selected including 11 first round picks.
Five of those first round picks competed at the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game last season in Kelowna, using the event as an opportunity to showcase their talents before hundreds of NHL personnel in attendance.
Over the past 17 years, more than 250 OHL players have competed in this game including first overall picks Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, and Taylor Hall.
When Hall competed before the hometown crowd in Windsor back in 2010, it was perhaps the best example of OHL stars shining at the Top Prospects Game.
Hall was captain of Team Cherry, pinned against Plymouth Whalers forward and Team Orr captain Tyler Seguin with both players battling for top spot in the rankings all season.
On this night, the hometown hero stole the show.
With the score tied 2-2 midway through the third period, Hall demonstrated his explosive speed and playmaking ability setting up Ryan Spooner of the Peterborough Petes for the shorthanded game-winning goal en route to a 4-2 win for Cherry.
“I knew if I got my speed up it would be a two on one,” Hall, Team Cherry’s Player of the Game, said after the win. “I saw the defenceman was kind of out of position a little bit and I faked the shot and he put it in the open net.”
While Seguin may have been held scoreless that night, he would become the second overall pick of the Boston Bruins in June after winning the OHL’s Red Tilson Trophy as Most Outstanding Player of the Year before winning a Stanley Cup with the Bruins as a rookie one year later.
That night another star emerged in the form of Kitchener Rangers sniper Jeff Skinner who tallied a goal and an assist as Player of the Game for Team Orr before finishing his sophomore season with 50 goals as the seventh overall selection by the Carolina Hurricanes. One year later Skinner won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year.
This season, 14 OHL players from 11 different teams have the opportunity for a memorable performance in Halifax that may take them one step closer to their NHL dream.
The 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game takes place next Wednesday January 16 at 7PM Eastern and can be seen live on Sportsnet and in the United States on the NHL Network.
For more information including news, rosters, along with historical event scores and statistics please visit www.homehardwaretopprospects.ca.