The United States Hockey League today announced the 40 players selected to compete in the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM which is scheduled for Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan.
The game, which is the first of its kind for the USHL, will showcase many of the top USHL players eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
A total of 30 players selected are in their first year of eligibility for the NHL Entry Draft. Seven of the players are draft-eligible for the second time this year. In addition, the USHL will showcase three players who are eligible to be drafted by NHL teams in 2013.
The selection process for the players was completed in cooperation with USHL General Managers, NHL scouts and decision makers, and NHL Central Scouting.
“We’re proud to be able to provide such a great night and stage for some of our young stars,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince. “It’s also a credit not just to the players, but the education-based American development model we celebrate in the USHL – that is, that you can remain NCAA-eligible, play Division I college hockey, and fulfill the dream of playing in the National Hockey League.”
USHL players selected for the game include forward Zemgus Girgensons of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and the USHL’s top-rated goaltender, Jon Gillies of the Indiana Ice. A trio of top defensemen prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, including Jordan Schmaltz of the Green Bay Gamblers, Mike Matheson of the Dubuque Fighting Saints, and Brian Cooper of the Fargo Force. The current leading scorer in the USHL, Kevin Roy of the Lincoln Stars, has also been named to the roster.
"The prospect game is a positive addition by the USHL as it presents a unique and valuable opportunity for NHL scouts to view these elite USHL players as they showcase their abilities," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting.
Fourteen USHL teams will have at least one player represented in the contest. Team USA declined to participate in the game due to academic commitments for its players during the week of the event. All but five of the 40 players currently have commitments to play collegiate hockey following their USHL careers.
Four players who are top prospects for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft were also selected to compete in the event, including Waterloo Black Hawks leading scorer Taylor Cammarata, the top pick in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft, and Black Hawks 16-year-old defenseman Ian McCoshen who is in his second USHL season. Lincoln Stars forward Luke Johnson, the team’s third-leading scorer, was also chosen for the event. Dubuque Fighting Saints 16-year-old defenseman Michael Downing, an original selection, will not be able to participate due to the heavy academic and playing schedule he faces after returning to the team from international competition.
The 40 USHL/NHL Top Prospects will now be divided into two teams, the makeup of which will be announced at a later date.
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft takes place on June 22-23 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Last year, a total of 37 players with USHL experience – 28 from the 2010-11 season and nine USHL alumni – were selected by NHL teams in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Roster
Ray Pigozzi – Chicago Steel Ian Brady – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
Kevin Irwin – Des Moines Buccaneers Jaccob Slavin – Chicago Steel
Zach Saar – Des Moines Buccaneers Mike Matheson – Dubuque Fighting Saints
Cody Bradley – Dubuque Fighting Saints Brian Cooper – Fargo Force
Zemgus Girgensons – Dubuque Fighting Saints Justin Wade – Fargo Force
Nate Arentz – Fargo Force Dakota Mermis – Green Bay Gamblers
Austin Farley – Fargo Force Jordan Schmaltz – Green Bay Gamblers
Alex Kile – Green Bay Gamblers Mike McKee – Lincoln Stars
Nicholas Schilkey – Green Bay Gamblers Mark Yanis – Muskegon Lumberjacks
Robbie Baillargeon – Indiana Ice Cliff Watson – Sioux City Musketeers
Robert Polesello – Indiana Ice Ian McCoshen – Waterloo Black Hawks**
Zach Aston-Reese – Lincoln Stars Chris Bradley – Youngstown Phantoms
Luke Johnson – Lincoln Stars** Michael Downing^ – Dubuque Fighting Saints**
Kevin Roy – Lincoln Stars
Adam Chlapik – Muskegon Lumberjacks
Matthew DeBlouw – Muskegon Lumberjacks Goaltenders
Jordan Masters – Muskegon Lumberjacks Jon Gillies – Indiana Ice
Justin Selman – Sioux Falls Stampede Alex Lyon – Omaha Lancers
Austyn Young – Sioux Falls Stampede Stephon Williams – Sioux Falls Stampede
Taylor Cammarata – Waterloo Black Hawks** Jay Williams – Waterloo Black Hawks
Vince Hinostroza – Waterloo Black Hawks
A.J. Michaelson – Waterloo Black Hawks
Austin Cangelosi – Youngstown Phantoms
Richard Zehnal – Youngstown Phantoms
^will not participate
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 10th season as the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league in 2011-12. With 28 picks during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 18 NHL draftees on its rosters last season, and over 280 players committed to NCAA Division I schools during the 2010-11 season, the USHL is emerging as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s multiple social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive).