Sure it was just a scrimmage, but last night at Rexall Place in Edmonton saw Canada’s best junior players go at it as they displayed their skills in front of those in charge of deciding who will make up Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championships.
The 47 invites were split into two teams, Team Red and Team White. Team white boasted players like Sean Couturier, Ryan Murphy, and 2011 1st overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Strome, Ryan Johansen, and both Stars prospects Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie made up Team Red.
Even with all those bigger names and higher draft picks on the ice, it was the Dallas Stars’ 2011 second round pick Brett Ritchie that stole the show offensively, scoring a hat trick that included the goal of the night which garnered the “ooohs” from the Rexall crowd. Ritchie cut across the middle of the ice, dipped the shoulder to deke out a defenseman, then ripped a wrister from the slot that beat goalie Tyler Bunz cleanly. The 6″3 power forward was a presence all night, demanding the attention of Team Canada’s big wigs.
Meanwhile, the Stars’ first round pick Jamie Oleksiak stood out on the back end for Team Red. His 6″7 , 244 LB frame made him a man among boys physically and he used that size to his advantage all night. He was beaten just once as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made a spin move early on and went wide on him, but Oleksiak gained position and forced Nugent-Hopkins to stay on the outside and turn something into nothing. Oleksiak also showed his ability to move the puck, making a rush up the ice by himself into Team White’s zone beating everyone but the two defenders it took to finally stop him about 20 feet inside the line. Unlike most other towering defenseman, mobility is not a problem for Oleksiak and his giant sized cuts were impressive.
It’s a ways still before any decisions are made, but judging by last night’s scrimmage, both Dallas Star prospects are taking whatever chances they had just a few days ago and increasing them significantly.
About the Author
Written by Travis Currie
Im your typical sports fan. Just a little more crazy about it. I live and die for my teams and I drive my girlfriend nuts. I consider myself the world's biggest Stars fan. Ive been a fan since I was a young kid going back to the mid 80's. Favourite Stars player of all-time is of course Mike Modano. Favourite non-Stars player of all-time is Peter Stastny. I love talking sports so please leave a reply to anything you agree or disagree with. If youd like to contact me my email is firstname.lastname@example.org