VANCOUVER — Pascal Laberge turned some heads on Thursday night.
The 17-year-old from Chateauguay, Que., scored twice before setting up the winner as Team Orr beat Team Cherry 3-2 in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
A centre for the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres, Laberge has 14 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season despite twice breaking his hand.
"I’m sure it’s going to help me because I’ve been injured a lot," he said. "I hope I opened some eyes."
Laberge was ranked as the No. 31 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft at the season’s midway point, but showed a quick release and good vision at Pacific Coliseum.
"I’m feeling pretty great," he said. "That was an amazing moment for me."
With Hall of Fame defenceman Bobby Orr and famed hockey broadcaster Don Cherry looking on as coaches, the event showcased 40 of the top draft-eligible players from the Canadian Hockey League, drawing a number of NHL scouts and general managers.
"I thought it was a good game and everybody played hard," said Cherry. "I think the crowd was happy."
Pierre-Luc Dubois added a goal and two assists for Team Orr. Dylan Wells got the win after coming on in relief for Carter Hart midway through the second period. Wells finished with 19 saves, while Hart stopped 15 shots.
Ty Ronning and Logan Brown replied for Team Cherry, while Jordan Kyrou chipped in with two assists.
Zach Sawchenko allowed three goals on 10 shots in the loss after coming on for Evan Fitzpatrick, who started and stopped all 17 shots he faced.
Just 11 seconds after Brown scored with 8:35 left in the third period to tie the score 2-2, Dubois — ranked as the No. 7 skater by NHL Central Scouting — stole the puck and worked a nice give-and-go with Laberge to restore Team Orr’s lead in front of a crowd of 10,113.
"There’s a lot of scouts here, a lot of people watching," said Dubois, a winger with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. "My main goal was to play a good game."
Laberge had earlier given his team a 2-1 lead at 9:40 of the final period on the power play with a quick shot between Sawchenko’s pads.
Down 1-0 in a game that lacked the usual physical intensity for the first two periods, Laberge tied things up for Team Orr with 2:51 left in the second when he grabbed the puck in the high slot and made a nice move before ripping a shot past Sawchenko.
Ronning, the son of former NHLer Cliff Ronning, was only added to the roster this week when Vancouver Giants teammate Tyler Benson was ruled out because of injury.
Ranked as the No. 82 North American skater, the native of nearby Burnaby, B.C., was in the right place at the right time to pop a rebound past Hart just 3:09 into the first to give Team Cherry a 1-0 lead.
"I think it was the loudest cheer I’ve ever had," said Ronning. "It’s something I’ll never forget. What an awesome experience this was.
"This gives me a little bit of confidence knowing that I belong with the top prospects."
Notes: The game was first played in 1996 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. … Vancouver also hosted in 2005, drawing an event-record 16,331.