Eakin makes his case in Team Orr win

By Ken McKenna

Heading into Wednesday’s CHL Top Prospects Game, center Cody Eakin had not received consideration as being one of the very best prospects for the 2009 NHL Draft. Of course, it is a rare honor to be chosen to take part in an event such as this that includes many elite players from the junior ranks. But Eakin’s mid-season ranking by Central Scouting as the 52nd best player in North America has him slotted currently as a third round selection, at best.

But after his strong performance in Team Orr’s 6-1 victory over Team Cherry, it is possible that scouts will give Eakin more attention in the coming months. Eakin, or “Carrottop” as he was referred to by his coach in this game, Bobby Orr, was named the player of the game for Team Orr based on his two-goal performance, as well as for the effort he displayed over the course of this contest. Eakin, who plays for the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL, has great speed to go along with his effort, which was evident in the Skills Competition Tuesday night in which he had the second-fastest time. 

It was a good game tonight”, stated Eakin in his post-game comments. “It’s always nice to get a win. The talent out there is incredible. Just to be among the players is awesome, and playing with good guys helps a whole lot.”

Perhaps the true stars for Team Orr were the goaltending duo of Olivier Roy and Scott Stajcer. Roy, who plays for the Cape Breton of the QMJHL, especially shone during his period-and-a-half stint. He turned back Team Cherry during the first half of the first period when they were pressing Team Orr, thereby allowing Team Orr to get back into the game and eventually take control of it. Roy did give up the only score by Team Cherry, but it was off of a nice setup that would have been difficult for most goaltenders to stop. Stajcer replaced Roy and made a handful of good saves while keeping Team Cherry at bay.

The defensive corps for Team Orr as a unit turned in a sterling effort. In particular, top defensive prospect Jared Cowan looked strong while collecting two assists in the win. The Spokane Chiefs rearguard played a sound positional game while also making a nice pass on one of Team Orr teammate David Gilbert‘s two goals.

Gilbert, a center for the QMJHL‘s Quebec Remparts, also scored a goal on a short-handed effort. He would certainly have made a good choice for player of the game for Team Orr, but there were many from that squad that were deserving of the award.

Despite the lopsided score in favor of Team Orr, Team Cherry wasn’t lacking for good performances, and in fact out shot the opposition, 43-39. But, despite 20 minutes in penalties against Team Orr, Team Cherry was not able to solve the goaltending duo of Roy and Stajcer.

Goaltender Edward Pasquale of the OHL‘s Saginaw Spirit was named Team Cherry’s player of the game, and with good reason. The lanky Pasquale turned away 20 of 21 shots to keep the score from getting truly out of hand.

We played alright”’ said a disappointed Pasquale. “I thought it would be a little bit of a relaxed game, but everyone was intense playing. It was quicker than normal, and there were a lot of good players out there, so we had to be on our game tonight.”

Taylor Doherty, the 6-8, 217-pound defenseman for the OHL‘s Kingston Frontenacs, was a physical presence throughout the contest for Team Cherry. Indeed, his strong play did not go unnoticed by his opinionated head coach. Said Cherry of his defenseman, “Doherty, he was running around, he looks like he’s gonna be in the National Hockey League.”

Other Team Cherry players held off the score sheet that still had solid contests included Carter Ashton, a right wing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Nazem Kadri, a center for the London Knights. Perhaps more noticeable for their struggles on this night were Vancouver Giants center Evander Kane, who was -5 on the night, along with Tyson Barrie, Matt Duchene and Simon Despres, who each logged a -3 in this contest.

But, as was stated earlier in the day and repeated after the game, this game is more about enhancing one’s reputation than hurting it, so those that had a tough night should still be able to bounce back from a lesser performance in the CHL Top Prospects Game.

This isn’t your typical All-Star Game”, said victorious coach Orr. “It’s a game where all the kids are trying to show their stuff, and everyone of them did. But unfortunately, there has to be a loser. Many of the players worry about not playing well, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world if they don’t play well tonight, or they are not quite up to their game. That’s not the case at all.”