The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the number of players that will represent each team at next month’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, presented by Easton, which will be held from February 17-18, 2014 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan, along with the teams’ coaches.
The number of players each NAHL team can to send to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, Midwest, North and South and a special fifth NAHL 18U Selects team, will each play in two game games, is based on each team’s winning percentage within their group as of January 20, 2014.
For the Central Division, the Austin Bruins (.697) will send five players, the Bismarck Bobcats (.641) will send four, the Aberdeen Wings (.605), Minot Minotauros (.449) and Brookings Blizzard (.363) will each send three. To round out the Central Division team, the Odessa Jackalopes, who are the 7th place team in the South, will send two representatives. The head coach of the Central team will be Chris Tok from the Austin Bruins and the assistant coach will be Layne Sedevie from the Bismarck Bobcats.
For the Midwest Division, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (.707) will send five players, the Minnesota Wilderness (.622) will send four, the Coulee Region Chill (.615), Kenai River Brown Bears (.549) and Wenatchee Wild (.513) will each send three and the Minnesota Magicians (.415) will send two. The head coach of the Midwest team will be Trevor Stewart from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and the assistant coach will be Corey Millen from the Minnesota Wilderness.
In the North Division, the Port Huron Fighting Falcons (.679) will send five players, the Michigan Warriors (.568) will send four, the Johnstown Tomahawks (.561), Soo Eagles (.538) and Springfield Jr. Blues (.513) will each send three and the Janesville Jets (.472) will send two. The head coach of the North team will be Michael Gershon from the Port Huron Fighting Falcons and the assistant coach will be Moe Mantha from the Michigan Warriors.
In the South Division, the Amarillo Bulls (.732) will send five players, the Topeka RoadRunners (.658) will send four, the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (.613), Wichita Falls Wildcats (.592) and the Corpus Christi IceRays (.427) will each send three and the Lone Star Brahmas (.363) will send two. The head coach of the South team will be Dennis Williams from the Amarillo Bulls and the assistant coach will be Scott Langer from the Topeka RoadRunners.
2014 NAHL Top Prospects schedule:
Monday, February 17th: North vs. South, 1pm – Central vs. Midwest, 3:30pm – NAHL 18U Selects vs. TBA, 6pm
Tuesday, February 18th: Central vs. South, 1pm – Midwest vs. North, 3:30pm – NAHL 18U Selects vs. USNTDP 17-Team, 6pm
The Head Coaches of each Top Prospect Team will make final roster decisions after considering the player nominations submitted by individual teams. Top Prospects Head Coaches will finalize their rosters by 5:00pm CST on January 23rd. Top Prospects rosters for all teams will be formally announced on Tuesday, January 28th on nahl.com.
In a very short period of time, the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament has become one of the most highly-scouted events of its kind. Last season, over 170 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. Over a third of the players that competed in last year’s event ended up with an NCAA Division I opportunity. Combined with the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament and NAPHL Championship series, it will make for an exciting week of hockey and provides a great opportunity for every scout and coach to get a close look the talent in the three leagues.
While the four NAHL divisional teams will play amongst each other at the event, the NAHL 18U Selects Team will face a yet to be named opponent on Monday, February 17th and then will face USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (NTDP) U17 Team on Tuesday, February 18th. This offers a unique opportunity for the NAHL and the NTDP to participate in a high-profile event in cooperation with one another. The NAHL and the NTDP have a rich and productive 12-year history together, as the NTDP was a full-time member of the NAHL from 1997-2009. The U.S. National Under-17 Team is coached by Don Granato and is coming off winning the World U17 Challenge title back in January 4th in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Only those NAHL players without an NCAA commitment are eligible to participate in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, with the exception of those who will be playing on the NAHL 18U Selects team. Each of the teams will consist of a 20-man roster (12 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goaltenders).
In conjunction with the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, all North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) teams - Midget Major and Midget Minor will compete in the NAPHL Championship Tournament Series for the right to be crowned league champions. That event runs from February 14-18, also at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.
The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) will also play their Top Prospects Tournament during the week, as all 21 teams will be represented amongst teams in the four divisions of the NA3HL. Each divisional Top Prospects team will play in three games from February 17-19 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)