While many expected fireworks considering just how much offensive firepower was on the ice, it was the goaltenders who instead stole the show.
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 5,276 fans at Langley Events Centre on the night of Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, the goalie tandem of Scott Ratzlaff and Jackson Unger combined to make 45 saves as Team White defeated Team Red 4-2.
Ratzlaff finished with 24 saves on 25 shots in 31:30 of action before Jackson Unger took over and finished with 21 saves on 22 shots. For Team Red, Carson Bjarnson (16 saves on 17 shots) and Charlie Robertson (11 saves on 13 shots) shared the goaltending duties.
The game showcased top NHL draft talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Team Red was coached by Vancouver Giants’ head coach Michael Dyck and former Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik Sedin and Ron Delorme, while Team White’s bench staff featured another pair of former Canucks, Daniel Sedin and Stan Smyl, as well as the Giants’ Brent Seabrook.
Team Red opened the scoring 3:21 into the game with Mathieu Cataford delivering a back-hander from the slot that went bar and in. The lead was short-lived however as Team White captain Colby Barlow was able to deposit a rebound on the power-play less than three minutes later.
That was all the scoring until the 3:53 mark of the final period when Carson Rehkopf converted off the rush to give Team White the lead for good.
“It was a really good play by [Calum Ritchie]. I thought it was going to be a 2-on-1 – he just kind of crossed over the one way and I saw a lane to shoot, so I took my shot,” said Rehkopf of his snipe which put his team in the lead for good.
Luca Pinelli made it 3-1 with 6:40 to play with a snapshot from the slot and that stood as the game-winning goal with Calum Ritchie scoring into the empty net. Zach Benson did get one back for Team Red as he one-timed a shot from the slot, but that came with just 36 seconds to play in regulation.
Rehkopf earned the Player of the Game Award for his team following his one-goal, one-assist effort while Riley Heidt earned the honour for Team Red. Heidt had an assist on Benson’s goal and finished with five shots goal.
The only player who had more shots on goal was his teammate, Connor Bedard –the top-ranked player for this June’s NHL Entry Draft — who finished with six shots on goal.
For box score and rosters, people can visit kubotatopprospects.ca/gamecentre/541/boxscore.
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