The inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game was a qualified success, with the on-ice action helping to overcome what was a sparse crowd attending this prospect showcase, a game that was won by Team McClanahan, 5-2.
For the players, it was the first opportunity this season to impress a legion of NHL scouts and GM's in a game that featured a higher level of skill than some of these players are used to competing against. As a result, there was little doubt that the play on the ice wouldn't be affected by the number of fans in the seats.
And, although the first period featured some scrambled play due in part to players getting used to working with some unfamiliar teammates, the action still moved along at a good pace.
Team Housley had an edge in play in the opening stanza, but McClanahan goaltender Cal Peterson was equal to the task, turning aside the five shots that he faced. Peterson was especially sharp on a nice doorstep save on Housley's Tyler Kelleher early in the first, and on two saves later in the period including one on Frank Vatrano that represented another excellent, close-in opportunity for Phil Housley's charges.
Team McClanahan finally opened the scoring with 4:06 left in the period, with Ryan Fitzgerald and Hudson Fasching taking off on a 2-on-1 into the Housley zone. Fitzgerald fed a nice pass to Fasching on the doorstep which allowed the speedy forward to make the tap-in past Housley starter Eamon McAdam for the 1-0 lead.
The period ended with that score, with Team Housley leading the shot totals, 5-4.
Play opened up a bit in the second period, which appeared to be to the advantage of Team McClanahan as that squad exploded for three goals in a span of a little over eight minutes.
At 13:54, Seth Jones, the defenseman who has already received quite a bit of attention as a potential top 2013 prospect, converted a slapshot from the point following a face-off win by Fitzgerald to give McClanahan a 2-0 advantage.
Just 2:09 later, forward Jacob Montgomery finished off a nice pass from forward Jimmy Lodge to give McClanahan the 3-0 lead.
The scoring parade continued for McClanahan 6:41 later when forward Quentin Shore slammed home a rebound after shots by Mike McCarron and Taylor Cammarata were stopped by McAdam. The Housley goaltender could do little more than look on helplessly as Shore pumped home the goal that gave McClanahan a commanding 4-0 lead.
Team Housley had a couple of good opportunities in the period but either misfired or were denied by Peterson, who stopped all 10 shots that he faced on the night. Shots for the period favored McClanahan by a wide margin, however, as they outshot Housley, 16-5.
The teams switched goaltenders at the start of the third period, with Hunter Miska taking over for McAdam and Evan Cowley relieving Peterson.
Miska made a great save on Cammarata early in the third that seemed to get his Housley teammates going as Evan Allen netted the first of his two goals for Housley by stuffing home the rebound of a shot by Frank Vatrano. The goal, which was scored at 13:52 of the third, made the score 4-1 in favor of McClanahan.
Team Housley put some pressure on intermittently after that goal, but Cowley was equal to the task as he preserved his squad's three-goal margin.
Then, with 9:10 left in regulation, Team McClanahan added some insurance on a goal by defenseman Dakota Mermis. Mermis was stationed in the slot and fired a nice snap shot over Miska's right shoulder. Fitzgerald added his third assist of the night, with Matt Lane getting the other helper.
Evan Allen got the score back down to a three-goal advantage with 6:10 left in the game when he cashed in a power play opportunity off the rebound of a shot by defenseman Steve Santini. Kelleher notched the other assist on the Housley goal.
The teams traded opportunities the rest of the way, but the score remained unchanged with McClanahan taking the 5-2 win. They also outshot Housley for the contest by a 28-24 margin.
With his three-assist performance plus some good work on faceoffs, Team McClanahan's Fitzgerald, the son of former NHL player Tom Fitzgerald, earned the Most Valuable Player award.