Robby Jackson of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, who was a late addition to the roster for tonight’s third annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, New York, found his way onto the score sheet when he was credited with an assist on the second goal of the game.
The goal developed when Team Olczyk’s Brendan Warren skated the puck into the offensive zone and found teammate Colin White, who ripped a shot from point blank range. The initial shot was saved by a stellar Luke Opilka (22 saves on 23 shots); however, after Jackson appeared to force the puck behind the net, White muscled the puck from below the goal line to an open Warren, who patiently backhanded the puck into the back of the net. The goal tied the game at one a piece at 6:58 of the second period.
Jackson continued to show he belonged in the game by showing off his impressive speed and passing ability. Around the five minute mark of the third period, Jackson forced himself onto a breakaway chance that was stopped by goalie Ryan Bednard (19 saves on 21 shots), who substituted for Opilka in the second period.
Jackson’s teammate this season on the Steel, Tanner Laczynski, also got into the game’s action, when earlier in the third period he nearly nabbed a goal off a hard shot (one of his four shots of the night) from between the circles that was denied by Bednard.
Overall, it was an impressive night for all of the American born prospects and the Chicago based United States Hockey League. Out of the 42 players chosen for the game, 32 had ties to the USHL.
The featured attraction at the game was the highly touted prospect Jack Eichel from Boston University. Eichel, who many are already predicting may go number one in next year’s NHL draft, definitely lived up to the hype. He finished the game with a goal and an assist, and took home MVP honors. The trophy was presented to him by Buffalo Sabre Drew Stafford.
After the game, Eichel told NHL Network that, “It was an awesome experience [and that he was] fortunate to take part in it.”
The “undersized” Jeremy Bracco, who is known for his playmaking ability, also impressed the reported 200 NHL scouts in attendance with two nice goals for Team Grier, one of which came off a beautiful pass from Eichel.
Team Grier defeated Team Olczyk by a final score of 6 to 3.
Both teams were made up of strictly American born players who are eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The teams featured players from 15 different states and the District of Columbia.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 13th season as the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league in 2014-15. A record 35 players were chosen in the 2014 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season have committed to NCAA Division I schools. For more information, visit them on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive).
Chris Paxhia covers hockey in Chicago for yeahstub.com. You can follow him on Twitter at: @ChrisPaxhia25 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.