NAHL Welcomes NAPHL 16U & 18U Players for Top Prospects Event
The North American Hockey League’s Top Prospects Tournament is set for Monday and Tuesday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Center in Cranberry, Pa.
More than 150 junior, 16U and 18U players from the Tier 2 North American Hockey League (NAHL) and the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) will participate in the tournament, which usually is attended by more than 200 professional, college and junior scouts.
The Top Prospects Tournament is one of the most highly scouted hockey events in North America, with almost every National Hockey League team and NCAA Division I program having a presence. It doesn’t end there, however, as the NAHL in the past has held the tournament in conjunction with its partner leagues, the NA3HL and the NAPHL
This year’s event includes the NAPHL 16U and 18U component, while the 2024 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament will be held during that league’s Fraser Cup playoffs March 22-24 in St. Peter’s, Mo.
The NA3HL is a pay-to-play Tier 3 junior league that is affiliated with the NAHL and sends many of its players on to play in the NAHL as well as at the NCAA Division III level. Also affiliated with the NAHL, the NAPHL is a youth showcase league with 18U, 16U, 15U and 14U divisions. NAPHL players and teams compete in several showcases held throughout the hockey season that are attended by coaches and scouts from all 32 NAHL organizations.
The NAHL pools its resources many times each season to bring members of its partner leagues together to compete at the same venues during the same weekends to maximize the exposure for the players while making it as easy as possible for its coaches and scouts to see as many prospects as possible in a short period of time. Everyone wins.
The same can be said about this week’s Top Prospects Tournament. Not only are teams representing all four of the NAHL’s divisions competing, but also there are teams featuring the NAPHL 16U and 18U prospect. Many of those players already were in town competing in the NAPHL’s final regular-season showcase over the weekend.
Instead of simply showcasing its top players who already have made NCAA Division I commitments, the NAHL created the Top Prospects Tournament with the goal of getting its best uncommitted players in front of as many scouts as possible. The only committed players who will participate are those chosen by NHL Central Scouting to have the opportunity to play in front of the assembled NHL scouts.
Once again, everyone wins, and that trickles down to the NA3HL and NAPHL players who also are afforded the opportunity to play in front of college and higher-level junior coaches and scouts several times a year. Top Prospects events are designed with the best interests of the players at the forefront, something that can’t be said about many other exposure events that are run by other organizations throughout the year.
The 2024 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament features six teams – four divisional teams, each consisting of players from their respective divisions, and two NAHL Selects teams (NAHL Selects Silver and NAHL Selects Gold).
The number of players each NAHL team is sending to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, East, Midwest and South, will each play in two game games, is based on each team’s winning percentage as of January 7, 2024. NAHL Selects Silver consists of players from the East, Midwest and South because of division sizes and roster limits. NAHL Selects Gold includes players selected in conjunction with the NHL Central Scouting Department.
Each team has a roster of 20 players (12 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goalies) for a total of 120 NAHL participants.
CLICK HERE for the NAHL Top Prospects rosters.
All games can be seen on NAHLTV.
NAHL Top Prospects Tournament Schedule
Monday, February 5
NAHL East scored four of the game's first five goals then held off a late Midwest rally to earn the victory. Ethan Wongus scored twice for the East, with Lukas Klemm and Massimo Gentile also tallying. Gentile added an assist on Wongus's first goal, and Matteo Disipio dished out a pair of helpers. Nolan Bettens, Adam Johnson and Nick Blood scored for the Midwest. Jacob Osborne and Peter Wickstrom Stumer combined to make 36 saves for the winners.
NAHL Silver scored four-straight goals overlapping all three periods to pull away and earn the 4-2 victory. Bryce Ingles, Pierson Sobush, Anthony Cafarelli and Isaac Keller each scored during the four-goal outburst, which broke open a 1-1 game, as 12 different players got on the scoresheet. Max Beckford stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced in goal for Silver. Mason Peapenbug and Anthony Cappello scored for NAHL Gold.
Weston Turner scored the lone goal in this one as the goalies stole the show in NAHL Central's 1-0 victory. Klayton Knapp stopped all 27 shots he faced to earn the shutout, while Jack Wieneke and Andy Vlaha combined to stop 36 of the 37 shots fired their way.
Tuesday, February 6
The Midwest took a 3-1 lead into third period and sealed the game on Jackson Stimple's goal at the 1:41 mark of the final frame. That was their third-straight goal after Riley Rosenthal tied the game for Sliver 8:15 into the second period. Trey Fechko scored 43 seconds later, and Everett Pietila netted Midwest's third marker at 13:02 of the middle stanza. Will Schumacher opened the scoring for the Midwest 12:30 into the game, while Matthew Alberti and Tyler Krivtsov combined to stop 34 shots for the winners.
The South scored six goals in a row after Jacob Jastrzebski opened the scoring for Gold 13 minutes into the contest. Medrick Bolduc started the run with three seconds left in the first period and scored again 2:47 into the second. His scores were followed by goals from Roman Zap, Ryan Burke and Brank Tafelski, with Burke also connecting twice during the six-goal outburst.Topi Puikkonen concluded the scoring for the South with 3:38 left in the game after Nikita Meshcheryakov and Jake Merens scored third-period goals for Gold. Andy Vlaha and Jack Wieneke combined for 32 saves for the South.
The Central scored twice in the first period and never looked back as Adam Dybal stopped all 21 shots he faced to record the shutout victory. Ocean Wallace, Weston Turner, Damon Furuseth and Riley Sharun each scored once for the winners, with Furuseth, Wallace and Turner also contributing single assists.
CLICK HERE for the NAPHL Top Prospects rosters.
All games can be seen on NAHLTV.
T1ER NAPHL Top Prospects Schedule & Results
Monday, Feb. 5
Trevor Young and Nicholas La Buono each scored twice, with Eli Hahn recroding a goal and two assists, Cooper Rodgers contributing a goal and an assist and Carter Duy dishing out a pair of assists as Team Blue rolled to victory. Jayton Frederick and Rily Berg scored for Team White, while Andrew Bely and Jacob Aranda combined to make 35 saves for the victors.
Kyle Sorenssen recorded a hat trick, including the goal that sent the game into overtime with 1:02 left in the third period, but it was not tnough for Team White. Team Blue got goals from Makha Santiago Dame, Drew Spaulding and Connor Jalbert in regulation before earning the shootout victory.
Tuesday, Feb. 6
Team Blue scored four times in the second period and then twice more in the third as part of a six-goal run that put the game away. Alex DeGroat scored the first two goals of the spree, with Trevor Young, Edward Sun, Vitali Ulianov and Emmet McClaine each scoring once. Ulianov, Nicholas La Buono and Matthew Muenz assisted on two of the goals, with McClaine picking up a single assist. Ethan Coots halted the run with a third-period goal then assisted on Ryan Frey's third-period marker. Jayton Frederick assisted on both scores, and Frey picked up an assist on the Coots goal. Andrew Lisnock and Casey Berninger scored first-period goals to give White an early 2-0 lead. Jacob Aranda and Andrew Bely combined to make 31 saves for the winners.
Connor Jalbert scored his second goal of the tournament in the first period to stake Team Blue to a 1-0 lead, but it was all Team White from that point on. White tallied four times in the second period and once in the third to skate off with a 5-1 victory. Jeremy Jacobs scored three of the five goals, with Nicholas Rockey and Kevin Walton each adding single goals. Jacobs also recorded an assist, with Rockey handing out a pair of helpers. Dominic D'Allessandro added a pair of assists for the victors, while Andrew Dubin and Ladon Buterbaugh combined to make 33 saves.