KELOWNA, B.C. — Three goals, two fights and a light-hearted jab of a comment added up to the lowest-scoring CHL Top Prospects Game in history on Wednesday night.
Branden Troock of the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game-winning goal, in the final minute of regulation, as Team Orr beat Team Cherry 2-1 at Prospera Place.
The game-winning goal, scored on the power play, came with 24.5 seconds remaining. Troock rushed down the right side, took a pass inside Team Cherry’s zone, cut around a defenceman, then tucked the puck home.
"I’m like anybody else; when you drop the puck, I want to win. And our kids want to win, too," said Team Orr head coach Pat Quinn. "I know the other side wanted to win, too, but we were way better."
Team Orr defenceman Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton, WHL) opened the scoring early in the second period following a scoreless first, slipping a shot from the left boards through a partial screen.
Team Cherry defenceman Dillon Fournier (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) levelled the score midway through the third period, burying a Mike Winther (Prince Albert, WHL) rebound at 8:23.
The game featured two fights, with Team Orr’s Dalton Thrower (Saskatoon, WHL) and Team Cherry’s Tom Wilson (Plymouth, Ontario Hockey League) scrapping in the second, then Orr’s Raphael Bussieres (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL) and Cherry’s Mat Dumba (Red Deer, WHL) dropping the gloves in the third.
"Wilson was ready to roll tonight, but I think the whole competitive nature of the game was unbelievable," said Team Cherry head coach Mark Recchi. "They wanted to play and they wanted to play well, and they showed that. Wilson got out there right away and wanted to set the tone physically, and I think it set the tone a lot for the game.
"It was a really good game; the tempo was high, it was physical and the kids did a heck of a job tonight. They really did. It was great to see."
All four goaltenders saw action, with the starters playing 30 minutes before giving way to their back-ups. Taking the win was Francois Tremblay (Val d’Or, QMJHL), while Matthew Murray (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) was tagged with the loss. Murray was Team Cherry’s player of the game, while Troock took the honour for Team Orr.
"I thought goaltending was great on both sides," Recchi said. "(Murray) was great coming in. It’s always tough coming in halfway through a period, and he did a great job."
Team Cherry associate coach Ryan Huska also praised the goaltenders, especially the ones coming in cold.
"With Matthew, as Mark said, it’s not an easy thing coming off the bench to do," Huska said. "And as soon as he got put in, he had a tough scoring chance (on him). He made a good save and gave his team the feeling that he was going to be there for him.
"I thought he played very well all night long and held us in when we were giving up some pretty good chances towards the end of the game."
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