(This article first appeared on NAHL.com on Monday, Jan. 19)
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the number of players that will represent each team at next month’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, presented by Easton, which will be held from February 23-24, 2015 at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with the teams’ coaches.
The number of players each NAHL team can to send to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, Midwest, North and South and a special fifth NAHL Selects team, will each play in two game games, is based on each team’s winning percentage within their group as of January 18, 2015.
For the Central Division, the Minot Minotauros (.718) will send five players, the Austin Bruins (.641) will send four, the Bismarck Bobcats (.538), Aberdeen Wings (.462) and Brookings Blizzard (.444) will each send three. To round out the Central Division team, the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, who are the 7th place team in the South, will send two representatives. The head coach of the Central team will be Marty Murrayfrom the Minot Minotauros and the assistant coach will be Chris Tok from the Austin Bruins.
For the Midwest Division, the Minnesota Wilderness (.718) will send five players, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (.679) will send four, the Coulee Region Chill (.622), Minnesota Magicians (.359) and Kenai River Brown Bears (.316) will each send three. To round out the Midwest Division team, the Odessa Jackalopes, who are the 8th place team in the South, will send two representatives. The head coach of the Midwest team will be Corey Millen from the Minnesota Wilderness and the assistant coach will be Trevor Stewart from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
In the North Division, the Janesville Jets (.763) will send five players, the Keystone Ice Miners (.554) will send four, the Soo Eagles (.526), Johnstown Tomahawks (.500) and Springfield Jr. Blues (.474) will each send three and the Michigan Warriors (.425) will send two. The head coach of the North team will be Joe Dibble from the Janesville Jets and the assistant coach will be Michael Gershon from the Keystone Ice Miners.
In the South Division, the Topeka RoadRunners (.738) will send five players, the Wichita Falls Wildcats (.722) will send four, the Lone Star Brahmas (.716), Corpus Christi IceRays (.597) and Wenatchee Wild (.474) will each send three and the Amarillo Bulls (.446) will send two. The head coach of the South team will be Scott Langer from the Topeka RoadRunners and the assistant coach will be John LaFontaine from the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
The NAHL is also pleased to announce that the US National Team Development Program (NTDP) will also take part in the NAHL event, with the USNTDP 18-Team playing the South Division team on Monday, February 23rd and then the USNTDP 17-Team facing the NAHL Selects Team on Tuesday, February 24th. The NAHL and the NTDP have a rich and productive 12-year history together, as the NTDP was a full-time member of the NAHL from 1997-2009.
2015 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament Schedule
Monday, February 23rd: North vs. Central, 1pm – NAHL Selects vs. Midwest, 4pm – South vs. USNTDP-18, 7pm
Tuesday, February 24th: Midwest vs. North, 11am – Central vs. South, 2pm – NAHL Selects vs. USNTDP-17, 5pm
The Head Coaches of each Top Prospect Team will make final roster decisions after considering the player nominations submitted by individual teams. Top Prospects Head Coaches will finalize their rosters by 5:00pm CST on January 21st. Top Prospects rosters for all teams are expected to be formally announced on Tuesday, January 27th on nahl.com.
In a very short period of time, the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament has become one of the most highly-scouted events of its kind. Last season, over 180 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. Over a third of the players that competed in last year’s event ended up with an NCAA Division I opportunity. Combined in 2015 with the NAPHL and the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournaments, it will make for an exciting week of hockey and provides a great opportunity for every scout and coach to get a close look the talent in the three leagues.
For more information on the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, visit www.nahl.com/tpt