Thanks largely to the efforts of Team East forward Tyler Madden (pictured above and son of long-time NHLer and Cleveland Monsters Head Coach John Madden) potting two goals on home ice, and Youngstown Phantom goaltender Ivan Provestov stopping each Team West shot he faced, East prevailed over West 4-3 in Tuesday’s annual USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Waterloo right wing Ben Copeland got in on the action, assisting on both of Madden’s goals, and Philippe Lapointe a right wing for the Lincoln Stars contributed two power play assists for the West. Taking place on the Tri-City Storm’s home ice in Kearney, Nebraska, each of the 40 players selected to play is 2018 NHL Draft eligible and determined in collaboration between NHL general managers and scouts, NHL Central Scouting and USHL general managers. A few of the other participating top-ranked prospects included:
Mathias-Emilio Pettersen, C – (Muskegon)
Listed at 5-10, 170 the left-shot pivot has room and time to grow. But he boasts surprising strength and a knack for making wicked accurate passes, powerful wrist shots and elusive, quick bursts particularly when storming the net. Muskegon GM John Vanbiesbrouck lauds his work ethic, competitive drive and ability to excel at center and wing.
In the midst of a solid second USHL campaign (7 G, 13 A, 27 contests), some optimistic earlier projections pegged Pettersen a top-five pick, but he’s most frequently considered a likely late first or early second round selection. Pettersen left Scandinavia at age 14, acclimating to the North American game for three campaigns in the US Premier Hockey League with Connecticut’s Selects Hockey Academy. Participating in National U16 and Midget play he registered 53 goals and 142 points in 89 contests against competition including later US Developmental Program standouts Evan Barratt and David Farrance, and with teammates Joel Farabee and Greg Printz. He committed to the University of Denver at age 15, where he’s slated to begin in 2018-19.
Christian Krygier, LD – (Lincoln)
A few weeks removed from helping Team USA to a silver medal at the World Junior A Challenge, Krygier is an integral blue line piece of the Lincoln Stars’ fourth-ranked defense in terms of goals allowed. He’s displayed quite a bit of grit in his rookie USHL campaign, earning 67 PIM in just 19 contests. No stranger to international play after he and his twin brother Cole, also a Star, both represented Team USA at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in June, at 6-02, 194-pounds the 17-year-old Christian is a large-framed shutdown defender earning a “B” ranking from NHL Central Scouting. This identifies the fall 2018 University of Wisconsin Badger commit as a likely second or third round selection in this June’s NHL Entry Draft. From a solid hockey pedigree, Christian and Cole’s father Todd Krygier serves as Head Coach for the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Sampo Ranta, LW – (Sioux City)
Ranta’s taken great strides with Sioux City this campaign. After six goals and three assists in 30 Musketeer contests suiting up with Eeli Tolvanen last year, he’s upped his production to nine goals and six assists in 26 contests thus far. Ranta’s not huge at 6-01, 192 but the Finnish-born wing possesses a hard and heavy shot along with excellent skating skill. He’s also slated to attend the University of Wisconsin next year. UW Badgers’ assistant coach Mark Osiecki describes him as a growing “power forward who is strong over the puck and has a good hockey IQ.” His recent development has seen him rise from a previous “B” Central Scouting ranking to his current “A” indicating first round Entry Draft potential.
Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup, LW – (Fargo)
While he unfortunately missed the Top Prospects Game due to injury, Schmidt-Svejstrup is developing into a surprisingly potent multi-dimensional player. Leading the USHL in goals (17) and tied for tops in points (29) through 24 contests, he’s serving in a much different capacity than during last year’s 29-game run with Dubuque. There he registered two goals and five assists on just 24 shots, adding an impressive 81 penalty minutes.
An undrafted University of Maine commit, the 19-year-old Danish power forward (6-02, 200 pounds) excelled last year in the NAHL (15 G, 12 A, 44 PIM in 26 Coulee Region Chill contests). He previously competed for Denmark in the 2015-16 U-18 WJC’s tallying two goals in seven games.
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