Tavares injury taints prospects tilt

ROGER LAJOIE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

OSHAWA -- John Tavares did not have the curtain call he was hoping for in Oshawa last night.

Tavares played in what was most likely his final game in the city where he toiled for 3 1/2 seasons for the hometown Generals, with the 5,510 fans at the General Motors Centre giving him a warm ovation when he was introduced before the annual CHL Top Prospects Game.

But the projected No. 1 pick for next June's NHL draft had to leave the game in the third period after being hit into the boards by Zack Kassian of the Peterborough Petes. Tavares picked up an assist to help his Team Bobby Orr teammates defeat Team Don Cherry 6-1.

Tavares did confirm it was his shoulder that took the brunt of blow. He was seen leaving the arena in no obvious discomfort -- playing down the severity of the injury -- but did not make himself available for a post-game scrum.

"We're all a little concerned about John Tavares," Orr told reporters after the game.

"I don't have a medical report on him, but his shoulder is sore. He has good motion and that is good news.

"Hopefully, John will come out of this and be okay."

Tavares' injury put a damper on the game, which featured the top 40 players for the 2009 NHL draft, as identified by NHL Central Scouting. The game also featured Tavares' Team Canada teammates Evander Kane of the Vancouver Canucks and Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires.

But it was Cody Eakin of the Swift Current Broncos who stole the show, scoring twice for Team Orr to earn the game's MVP honours.

"The talent out there is incredible," Eakin said. "Playing with good guys really helps a lot. The win feels great, but this was just a great experience all around."

There were 28 minutes in penalties called and some chippy play, typical of the event's 14-year history.

"This isn't your typical all-star game. It's a game where the kids are trying to show their stuff. Everyone of them did," Orr said. "There are going to be a lot of very good, solid hockey players come out of this game."

David Gilbert of Quebec also scored twice and Taylor Beck of Guelph and Levko Koper of Spokane added singles for Team Orr while Andrej Nestrasil of Victoriaville replied for Team Cherry.

Orr and Cherry have coached the event 10 times, with Orr holding a 7-3 edge on his former coach.

"They take it hard when they lose this game, they think it's the end of the world," Cherry said. "It's not just an exhibition game. These kids want to impress the scouts so bad."

Current NHL stars such as Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Rick Nash and Patrick Kane have played in previous Top Prospects games.


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