Prospects game serious stuff

Jamie McGinn of the Ottawa 67's skates during the CHL Top Prospects Game skills competition Tuesday...

Jamie McGinn of the Ottawa 67's skates during the CHL Top Prospects Game skills competition Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place. (Ottawa Sun/Sean Kilpatrick)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET

Let's make one thing perfectly clear about tonight's CHL Top Prospects Game.

It won't cause any seismic shifts in the rankings for the upcoming NHL draft.

The players, however, are also mindful this isn't one of those run-of-the-mill all-star contests with no hitting and even less drama.

"This is serious business," said Don Cherry, who'll coach a team bearing his name in tonight's game at Scotiabank Place.

"You won't see a lot of smiling with these guys. This is like the seventh game of the Stanley Cup playoffs for them."

With NHL team scouts watching from their perches above the ice, tonight's exhibition between Team (Bobby) Orr and Cherry's squad gives the players a chance to get noticed. That might take a highlight-reel goal or a thunderous check, but at least there's something at stake in this thing.

"It's a big game for me to show what I can do," said Jamie McGinn of the Ottawa 67's.

The 17-year-old winger knows all about creating a big moment to improve his hockey stock.

During last year's OHL playoffs, he scored the clinching goal in overtime to give the 67's a four-game sweep of Peterborough in the Eastern Conference championship.

It was a moment that clearly gave McGinn's hockey career a boost.

Even the opposing coach, Peterborough's Dick Todd, mentioned McGinn during his post-game comments, noting that fans watching the series were treated to great performances by two of the best then- 16-year-olds in the OHL -- Jordan Staal and McGinn.

"You always look for those kinds of moments and whatever you can do to help you in the draft, or down the road," said McGinn, who'll try to improve on his No. 54 ranking in the mid-term NHL Central Scouting ratings for North American skaters.

"It could be a goal, or it could be a big hit like the one (Dion) Phaneuf had a couple of years back."

Three years ago at this event in Kitchener, the now-famous Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames staged what many believe to be his breakout moment.

In the third period while playing for Cherry's team, he decked Marc-Antoine Pouliot along the boards, then dropped his gloves and traded punches with Paul Bissonnette.

"Before the game, he came up to me and told me that he was going to make the National Hockey League and that everybody was going to notice him in that game. He played that night just like he does now in the NHL," said Cherry.

Orleans native Ben Shutron, a defenceman with the Kingston Frontenacs, is also looking to make an impression.

"With pressure comes a great opportunity," said Shutron, who's rated 14th. "There's a lot of guys who are looking to improve their ranking, and there's a lot of guys up there who'll want to stay there."

Shutron did himself a favour during yesterday morning's testing session for NHL scouts, ripping a 95.8 mph slapshot to record the hardest shot among his peers.

"I think it surprised everybody. I think everybody expected some big, hulking 6-foot-4 defenceman to win that one," he said.

"But I've been working on my shot ever since I was a little kid, so maybe it's paying off."

Tonight he's more keyed up about wearing jersey No. 4 on Orr's team.

GOT THE SKILLS: Team Orr, with assistant coach Dick Todd in control behind the bench, bested Cherry's squad (assisted by Brian Kilrea and Bert O'Brien) 15-13 in last night's skills competition.Biggest cheers of the night went to Saginaw D Matthew Corrente (Orr), who won the hardest shot competition with a 99.6 mph slapper, and Gatineau forward Claude Giroux (Orr), who scored on a between-the-legs wrister on a break during the three-on-three challenge, beating Saskatoon goalie Kevin Armstrong. "I'm lucky it worked, because I would have looked pretty stupid if it didn't," said Giroux, who was added to the Orr lineup to replace injured Bryce Swan of the Halifax Mooseheads.

IN THE CREASE: Bobby Orr couldn't make it to Ottawa for yesterday's skills competition due to family business in Florida, but is expected in Ottawa for tonight's game ... Senators centre Jason Spezza has been added to the coaching roster of Orr's team. In 2001, Spezza served as captain for Cherry's team at this event, which was played in Calgary ... Two Gatineau natives are playing in tonight's game: Acadie-Bathurst D Mathieu Carle and Drummondville C Derick Brassard, rated sixth on Central Scouting's mid-term list.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com

FUTURE NHLERS?

Facts about tonight's CHL Top Prospects Game:

WHERE: Scotiabank Place

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHO: 40 draft-eligible players, divided into Team Orr and Team Cherry

TV: Rogers Sportsnet


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