Today’s game featured twenty five forwards, sixteen defensemen and six goalies. Each line played equal time and the goalies each played one period. Team Red won the game in a shootout off a nifty deke goal from Eamon Powell and a quick release snap shot top corner from Tanner Latsch. Blue only scored once in the shootout; a skilled deke move in tight by Thomas Bordeleau.
The game was a tad sloppy given that these were players who have never played together and you could sense the nerves early in the game. As the game went on players got more comfortable and more confident and started making plays.
Compared to previous years, this might be a harder decision to make because there are only a few standouts and a big middle tier where you could make an argument either way. Credit to the NTDP staff, there wasn’t a single player that looked out of place in this first game. Below are our notes on Day #1.
No. 1’s Played Like It
Our #1 rated forward Antonio Stranges and No. 1 rated defenseman Tyler Kleven played like it and were a step ahead of the competition. Stranges opened the scoring with a beautiful deke goal on Drew Comesso on a breakaway and was the most dynamic playmaker in the camp.
Klevens brings the size, the skating ability, the heavy shot, the physicality and the athleticism making him a force at both ends of the ice.
Lack of Size and Lack of Right Shots Upfront
The opening game of camp featured 25 forwards; of those players only 7 are 6’0” or taller and the tallest is Dylan Peterson at 6’3”. There are two forwards at 6’2”, three forwards at 6’1” and one forward at 6’0”.
17 of the 25 forwards in the lineup tonight were lefties, meaning there was only seven right shots in the camp. A lot of centers during the season were playing wing and some wingers had to play on their off wing.
Goaltending and Defense are Deep
The first thing that stands out in the defensive core and goaltending is depth. There is a nice combination of size, skill and mobile defenseman and the goaltenders bring size and athleticism. As camp continues some players will begin to emerge and others will fall, but after today you could make an argument for nearly any player on the backend and in net.
Late Additions to the Camp took Advantage
Carter Mazur (3.75 star) and Dylan Robinson (4.25 star) made the most of their opportunity being late additions to the Evaluation Camp roster. They made plays and they both scored a goal despite playing out of their normal position. Robinson was a center with Toronto Jr. Canadiens this season and played wing in this game and Carter Mazur is a right shot who played on the off wing in this game. Mazur brought some burst and some skill while Robinson played smart, hard and efficient game.
This camp attracts the best ’02s in the United States (only exception this year is Stephen Halliday who is going OHL route), which means most all of these players have a lot of options as to where to play. Most of the time, with the exception of some Minnesota High School players or New England Prep players in years past; if you come to the camp and get invited you almost always accept. With that being said, there are some players in this camp with a lot of CHL pressure as first round picks in their respective drafts including Thomas Bordeleau (QMJHL), Antonio Stranges (OHL), Dylan Robinson (OHL) and Dylan Peterson (OHL). Not to mention former second and fourth round WHL picks Anthony Kehrer and Jake Sanderson.
The players had the chance to watch the NTDP U18’s play against Chicago Steel and see some of the high end 2001’s playing up and having success such as Jack Hughes (who was the best player on the ice), Alex Turcotte, Cole Caufield and Cam York. Hughes and Turcotte were both in the same position last year at this camp; both could have been top picks in the OHL Draft but decided to go the NTDP route.
Forwards: Matthew Beniers had two goals and an assist. While we had him as our #8 best US born forward going into camp, he was second only to Stranges upfront. Hunter McKown, our #34 ranked forward in the US was much better than that here and made a great first impression on Day 1 as a legitimate contender for the team.
Defense: Anthony Kehrer, our #6 ranked defenseman in the US and Eamon Powell, our #8 ranked defenseman were two of the best in the game today. Powell had a brilliant assist through the neutral zone springing Stranges for a breakaway and the first goal of the game. Kehrer was a force defensively and tough to get around with his skating ability and instinctual play..
Goaltending: Noah Grannan posted a shutout in the period he played and it wasn’t a result of not facing pressure as he had to extend and make some difficult saves. Our #3 ranked goalie headed into camp was #1 after Day 1.
NZ will be scouting all five games and at the conclusion of the camp will release grades and full scouting reports on each prospect for our subscribers.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/ Hickling Images