January 16, 2020
Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Braden Schneider scored the game-winning goal and Kamloops Blazers goaltender Dylan Garand earned the win between the pipes as Team White defeated Team Red 5-3 Thursday at the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ont.
Despite ending up on the wrong side of the scoresheet at the end of the night, it was Team Red finding the back of the net as Jeremie Poirier ripped a shot from the point past goaltender Samuel Hlavaj 3:58 into the first period.
Just minutes later though, Team White would answer back from the stick of a WHL player as Cole Perfetti dished the puck out from the sideboards meet the corner.
With the puck landing on the stick of Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Kaiden Guhle, he’d control the puck while skating in and rip the shot past Moose Jaw Warriors goaltender Brock Gould to get Guhle’s side on the board.
“It was good to contribute offensively,” Guhle said. “It felt good to get that tying goal for the guys.”
In a matchup of the best draft-eligible prospects in the CHL, Guhle was ready for the challenge from a defensive perspective as well.
“Every player on the other team is skilled,” Guhle said. “They all have good hands, they’re all very shifty.
“You have to make sure you contain them a little bit more.”
Late in the period though, Jack Quinn would put Team Red ahead as the home side completed a pretty passing play that served to put them ahead 2-1 at the first intermission.
Team White would find their opportunity to seize control of the game in the second with help from Blazers forward Connor Zary.
Passing the puck up to Tyson Foerster, Zary helped create the odd-man run for Team White, with Foerster electing to keep the puck and snapping it home to tie up the game.
“Second period, I think we just went off and everything just fell into place,” Zary said. “Every time I had the puck, it was so easy to find a guy and without even looking I just knew where he was.”
Foerster struck for his second of the period seconds past the midway mark of regulation, taking the cross-ice pass from Zary and depositing it into the back of the net.
Minutes later, Zary found Foerster with another pass, but the forward decided to dish the puck off to Schneider, who wasn’t picked up by the Team Red defence and beat the goaltender to make it 4-2.
“Coming out with the win at this event is pretty special,” Schneider said. “It’s going to be something that I remember for a long time.”
Perfetti would add an empty-net goal late while Dawson Mercer would strike late with Vancouver Giants forward Justin Sourdif collecting an assist, keep the difference at two at the end of regulation.
Garand finished with 10 saves on 11 shots to nearly silence his opponents through the second half of regulation.
“It feels really good to perform well here and show the scouts what I’ve got,” Garand said. “They scored one on me, which, oh well it’s the way it goes. I’m glad that we got the win.”
Gould finished with 27 saves on 31 shots for Team Red. The new Warriors goaltender faced a unique situation, appearing for all 60 minutes of the contest after an injury in warmups to teammate Nico Daws.
“The more you can showcase yourself to these scouts, you should take the opportunity,” Gould said. “It was sad to hear that Nico went down, but I was ready to play the full 60.”
Zary’s three-assist performance was the first by a WHL player at the event since Portland Winterhawks defenceman Henri Jokiharju posted a trio of helpers at the 2017 edition of the event. Gould’s 27 saves were the second-most in the event’s history, just two shy of the 29 saves by Roberto Luongo in 1997.