US prospects showcase talents
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)
For one night, fans in a hockey-starved city got a chance to see a game, and it didn't feature any of the NHL players who are currently locked out.
Ryan Fitzgerald had three assists to help Team McClanahan beat Team Housley 5-2 on Saturday night in the inaugural USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game showcasing players who eligible for the 2013 NHL draft.
Evan Allen scored both goals for Team Housley in front of a crowd of 5,519 fans who were able to forget - at least for a while - that the NHL and its players were still negotiating to end their two-week old impasse, which has so far wiped out the entire pre-season schedule.
The teams were named after their coaches, Phil Housley and Rob McClanahan, both of whom played for the Buffalo Sabres. Housley was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, and McClanahan was a member of the 1980 ''Miracle on Ice'' U.S. Olympic champion team.
''It's cool that people pay attention to us a little more,'' said Hudson Fasching, who opened the scoring with 4 minutes left in the first period. ''It's still a scrimmage and you're playing with guys you're used to playing with.''
Fitzgerald, the MVP of the game, responded to those who criticized about his decision to play for a junior team in Massachusetts instead of going to the National Team Development Program.
''There were questions if I can play with the big boys out here,'' said Fitzgerald, whose father Tom played 17 NHL seasons. ''This is a pretty big stepping stone and I think I did a good job.''
Team McClanahan starting goalie Cal Petersen stopped all seven shots he faced, while Evan Cowley made a game-high 15 saves. Eamon McAdam allowed the first three goals and Hunter Miska yielded two for Team Housley.
The game also attracted representatives from virtually all 30 NHL teams, whose jobs are not impacted by the lockout. Junior leagues, colleges, and minor leagues are not subject to the labor disputes.
''Whether we're playing or not, there's plenty to do and plenty of hockey to watch,'' Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke said. ''We place great value on a showcase like this, where it's best-on-best. And it's no All-Star Game, there's a lot of hitting out there.''
Team McClanahan jumped out to a 4-0 lead with a three-goal second period. Seth Jones, the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, made it 2-0 on a slap shot from the right point 6 minutes into the second. Jacob Montgomery took a lead pass in the slot and scored on a backhander two minutes later. Quentin Shore scored with 5 minutes left in the period, swatting in a rebound from beside the net.
Allen spoiled the shutout bid, redirecting a rebound from the slot after Cowley made an initial save 6 minutes into the third period. Midway through the period, Dakota Mermis made it 5-1 on a snap shot. Allen scored his second on another rebound, this one on the power play with 6 minutes left.