Fans cheered throughout the game for both American teams.
October 5, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – By all accounts, the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game that was played last Saturday (Sept. 29) at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., was a resounding success.
"I think in the end, we could not have been more pleased," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "For an inaugural effort, our feedback has been extremely positive from fans, players, scouts, media and our sponsors."
More than 150 National Hockey League scouts and management personnel attended the event for the chance to observe 40 of the top American-born players eligible for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Additionally, media from across North America filled the press box to cover the talent-rich U.S. draft pool.
"This event is the next logical step in showcasing the best kids in the country every year," said Brian Burke, president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and also the general manager of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team. "USA Hockey made a concerted effort about 15 years ago to positively influence the development environment for junior-aged players. It created the National Team Development Program, which has been a terrific success and has helped junior hockey overall in the United States become better. We've got more kids playing hockey and are providing development avenues for those of all ability levels, including those who have the potential to play in the NHL, like the young men that played Saturday in Buffalo."
"It was amazing, a great experience," said J.T. Compher, a forward who NHL Central Scouting projects to be a first-round draft pick in June. "I had so much fun in Buffalo. The Sabres were great. USA Hockey is amazing. It means a lot knowing that young kids are going to look at this game and say, 'I want to play in the [CCM/USA Hockey All-American] Prospects Game.'"
Two legendary hockey figures in Phil Housley and Rob McClanahan served as head coaches for the game and in the end it was Team McClanahan that outdueled Team Housley by a 5-2 count.
"I was really excited to be asked to coach in this game," said McClanahan, who played on the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. "It was fun to get to see and interact with some of our top prospects and it is really great to see how hockey continues to grow in prominence in our country."
Some 5,500 fans seized the opportunity to watch America's brightest young hockey stars in person at the First Niagara Center. Lengthy lines formed after the game in the concourse as fans had a chance to meet and get autographs from the head coaches and many of the players.
"Going out on the ice in an NHL building was pretty surreal," said Team Housley defenseman Ian McCoshen. "There were a lot of fans out there. It is a pretty spectacular facility that the Buffalo Sabres have. What an honor to be in that game."
"(The competition) was unbelievable," said Tyler Motte, a forward from Team Housley. "It was fun and some of the most competitive hockey I've ever played."
"The Buffalo Sabres organization was thrilled to host the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game," said Ted Black, president of the Buffalo Sabres. "From all reports, it was a great experience for everyone involved and that was our goal from the beginning."
According to Ogrean, USA Hockey expects the game to be an annual event. "Our staff is in the process of fully reviewing all aspects of the game and we'll make a decision on the way forward likely by the end of the year."
NOTES: Ryan Fitzgerald was named the Most Valuable Player of the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game … The official attendance was 5,519 … Scotty Bowman, the all-time winningest coach in NHL history, dropped the ceremonial first puck. Bowman spent sevens of his 30 NHL seasons as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres (1979-87) and had a hand in bringing Phil Housley and Rob McClanahan, the head coaches for the game, to Buffalo in the early 1980s ... Players selected to compete in the inauguralCCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game were chosen by USA Hockey in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting ... Of the 40 players that competed in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, 30 were from the United States Hockey League, the top junior league in America, including 21from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. Additionally, some 34 of the 40 are future NCAA Division I college players ... Players selected to participate represent 13 different states. Minnesota led the way with eight, followed by Michigan (6) and Massachusetts (5). Other states included California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin ... The on-ice officials included referees Tom Chmielewski and Chris Pitoscia and linesmen Alex Stagnone and Brian Oliver … The uniforms for the event were designed and produced by USA Hockey partner Nike. Team Housley wore blue uniforms and Team McClanahan wore white uniforms. Click here to view the uniforms ... FASTHockey.com provided a live free-for-view stream of the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game. For a replay, visit usahockey.fasthockey.com ... Two youth contests preceded the game Saturday -- Buffalo Saints 18U vs. Amherst Knights 18U and Buffalo Jr. Sabres 18U vs. Greater Boston Jr. Bruins 18U … Local Mite teams participated in cross-ice games between both periods of the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.