Top Prospects Tournament: South, West and Frontier Division squads all win on opening day

By Kevin Scott

South Division vs. East Division
Box Score Game Sheet Tourney Scoreboard  Rosters
NAPHL vs. West Division
Box Score Game Sheet Tourney Scoreboard  Rosters
Central Division vs. Frontier Division
Box Score Game Sheet Tourney Scoreboard Rosters

 CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP (PITTSBURGH), PA., February 6, 2023 — The 2023 North American 3 Hockey League’s annual Top Prospects Tournament (TPT) takes place on Monday February 6th and Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township (near Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania. The 2022 event was also held in the same venue and is the practice facility for the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins professional hockey team.

The ‘all-star’ like tournament is played in cooperation with the 2023 North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Top Prospect Tournament at the same facility.

The 2023 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament provides an opportunity for the NA3HL to showcase their best hockey players in front of coaches and scouts from the North American Hockey League (NAHL), the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and the NCAA college levels.

On Sunday, January 8th, the NA3HL standings were frozen, and teams were seeded within their division based on win percentage. The number of players that each NA3HL team sent to the TPT was based on each squad’s winning percentage within their group.

This year, the five teams comprised of the five NA3HL divisions (Central, East, Frontier, South, and West) plus a team comprised of a roster of U18 players from the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) make up the tournament. Each team consists of 20 players (120 players and twelve coaches total) will each play two games over two days with each squad having 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, two goaltenders, one head coach and one assistant coach. Respective head coaches nominated all players that were considered for the prestigious event. The two-day Top Prospects Tournament began on February 7th and will finish on February 8th. Click here for the full two-day tournament schedule and results.

The Frontier Division squad was represented by all eight teams. The Gillette (WY) Wild and the Helena Bighorns, the top two teams in the Frontier Division, sent seven players and four players, respectively, while the Sheridan (WY) Hawks will have three players and the Butte Cobras have two representatives. The Yellowstone (WY) Quake, Badlands Sabres, Bozeman Ice Dogs, and the Great Falls Americans will have one each. Click here for the Americans press release with full rosters, coaches, and schedule for each team.

Alex Leaf represents the Great Falls Americans (15-22-2-0), who are currently in sixth place in the Frontier Division, at this tournament. “Alex is very deserving of this honor,” said Great Falls Americans Head Coach and General Manager, Greg Sears. “He is one of our most consistent players. It will be a good trip for him.” Alex will be guided by Gillette Wild Head Coach, Ethan Hayes and assisted by Helena Bighorns mentor Scott Cunningham.

Former Great Falls American and current Gillette Wild forward Silas Hughes scored two lamplighters and five teammates each tallied a score as the Frontier Division hung on for a 6-4 decision over the Central Division during opening day at the 2023 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon.

The Helena Bighorns connection of Tyler Bloom and Tyler Alldredge made the score 1-0 in favor the Frontier Team five minutes into the contest. The Frontier Team had just seven shots-on-goal while the Central Division attempted eleven.

The Frontier Team outscored the Central Division, 2-1 in the middle period. After Austin Meers (Rochester Grizzlies) goal from the stick of Per Waage (Rochester Grizzlies) tied the contest eight minutes in, Silas Hughes and Sky Solig got the puck in the net with helpers from Alec Waller and Anthony Foster. All four players suit up for the Gillette Wild.

In the final period, Patrick Toomey (Milwaukee Power) cut the Central Division deficit to 3-2 on his unassisted score early in the third. Sheridan Hawks forward Ryan McKenna found Silas Hughes to increase the lead for Team Frontier (4-2) with ten minutes remaining. The Central Division would not give up as they scored two unanswered goals to even the score (4-4) with 3:46 left. Carter Watters (Oregon Tradesmen) and Logan Kroyman (Rochester Grizzlies) each put the biscuit in the basket with assist coming from Will Falconer (Oregon Tradesmen) and Luke Morrisette (Rochester Grizzlies) on the Watters scoring drive. Kroyman’s game-tying goal went unassisted. Hunter Walla (Badlands Sabres) and Josef Lalli (Gillette Wild) each found the back of the net to preserve the win for Team Frontier.

The Frontier team managed to win the contest taking 25 shots including nine each in the last two periods. Team Central had 28 of their 39 shots after the first period.

Four total (minor) penalties were issued between both all-star teams and no power play chances.

Jake Turek (Gillette Wild) played one and a half periods and allowed one goal with 15 saves. Caleb Cross of the Butte Cobras was credited with the win. He had 20 saves in 30 minutes of action. Cam Pendleton (Peoria Mustangs) took the loss as he played the last thirty minutes with 12 saves. Adam Prokop (Milwaukee Power) started the game for the Central Division and ended with seven saves.

South Division finishes strong in 6-2 win over East Division

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP (PITTSBURGH), PA., February 6, 2023 — Jack Lambert of the Louisiana Drillers and Michael Imala of the Texas Brahmas each scored two goals and dished out one assist apieces to lead the NA3HL’s South Division to a 6-2 victory over the NA3HL’s East Division during the first day of competition at the 2023 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament.

The East Division opened up the contest with a goal by Caiden Hess (Northeast Generals). His teammates on the Generals, Braeden Kennedy and Matthew Nuzzolilo assisted for the one-goal advantage 12:40 into the game. Brody Neish (Louisiana Drillers) evens the contest off the stick of Austin Micale (Atlanta Capitals) before the first period ended.

After getting an assist in the first period, Braeden Kennedy racked up his first goal of the tournament off the stick of Matthew Nuzzolilo, who picked up his second assist for the East Division. The South tacked on two more goals and led 3-2 before the second break. Jack Lambert and Michael Imala buried the puck into the net for the first of their two goals. A pair of Atlanta Capital standouts Austin Micale and Nick Jameus helped set up Lambert’s tally while Texas Brahmas top prospects Ben Mondou and Aaron Best assisted on Imala’s goal.

The third period belonged offensively to the South Division with three consecutive scoring drives. Payne Pent (El Paso Rhinos), Jack Lambert and Michael Imala all got in the scoring column for the victorious squad. The five players that helped make the goals possible included Erik Larsen of the New Mexico Ice Wolves, Nick Jameus, and Jack Lambert.  Eitan Geralnik (Texas RoadRunners) had two helpers.

A total of six shots separated these two teams when the game concluded.  Team South finished with 35 shots and Team East had 29.

Both teams combined for three stoppages (penalties) of play that resulted in six minutes of penalty time. No power play chances were recorded.

Although Hunter Hein (Texas RoadRunners) got the start, it was Louisiana Drillers goalie John Moriarty getting the win for the South Division. Moriarty had 17 saves in 29 minutes of action while Hein had ten. Ryan Maguire (Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks) and Ian Kangas (Northeast Generals) combined for 29 saves, but Maguire was credited with the loss for the East Division (box score).

Coby Weber’s two goals help Team West defeat Team NAPHL

Granite City Lumberjacks forward Coby Weber scored two of the five goals to power the West Division to a 5-3 win over the NAPHL T1ER 18U team in the second game of the day at the 2023 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in Pennsylvania.

Brody Simko (Esmark Stars) scored the first goal of the game for the NAPHL team. Wesley Schwarzmiller (Esmark Stars) made the assist that came midway through the first period. The NAPHL’s lead did not last long as the West Division’s Cole Klingbeil (Alexandria Blizzard) answered with the game-tying goal 2:36 later.

The 1-1 score last seven minutes into the second period before Anthony Alvarado (Biggby Coffee) broke the tie to regain the lead for the NAPHL squad. Alvarado’s teammate with the Biggby Coffee, Gavin Duckworth garnered the assist. Braydon Buckingham (Willmar WarHawks) evened the score for Team West. Minnesota Loons forward Willem Kerr and Wyatt Johnson of the Alexandria Blizzard got the puck to Buckingham for their team’s second goal. Coby Weber (Granite City Lumberjacks) put the West team in front 3-2 with Lumberjack teammates Jacob McPartland and Finnigan Greeley assisting with 55 seconds remaining in the middle stanza.

Three minutes into the third period, Connor Jalbert’s (Northeast Generals) unassisted tally tied up the contest for the third time (3-3). In the end, the West Division scored twice during the final six minutes for a two-goal victory. Coby Weber’s second goal came with 6:08 on the clock followed by Sean Kenny’s (Alexandria Blizzard) scoring drive that occurred with ten second left. Wyatt Johnson (second assist) and Colin Hedland and Cullen Hogan of the Mason City Toros set up the final two goals.

The NAPHL team came up short on the scoreboard, but they won the shots-on-goal battle, 29-23.

The second game of the day saw five minor penalties during the sixty-minute affair with no power play opportunities awarded.

Michael D’Orazio (Willmar WarHawks) and Nolan LaCosse (New Ulm Steel) were the goaltenders that played for Team West. D’Orazio picked up the win by stopping 10 of 11 shots put up by the NAPHL 18U team. Starting netminder LaCosse allowed two goals and had 16 saves. Team NAPHL had a different goaltender during each of the three periods. Nikita Volski (Esmark Stars) started and finished with five saves in twenty minutes. Michael Manzi (Philadelphia Little Flyers) (six saves) played in the second period and Brady Govero (CarShield AAA), despite getting the loss on his record, made seven saves in the third stanza (box score).

TOURNAMENT NOTES: Fans can also follow the action live at HockeyTV and see the stats updated live on the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament Scoreboard. View the first day of action (box scores/game recaps) by clicking here for the NA3HL article.

Click here to view the full roster list (printable PDF version) from each of the six TPT teams.

Click here to view the NA3HL Press Release with rosters, coaches, and schedule and information for the 2023 Top Prospects Tournament. Fans can also follow the action live at HockeyTV and see the stats updated live on the NA3HL Scoreboard.

The following links are articles relating to the 2023 Top Prospects Tournament.

January 24, 2023: NA3HL News: NA3HL Top Prospects just two weeks away

January 20, 2023: NA3HL announces 2023 Top Prospects Tournament rosters and schedule

January 12, 2023: NA3HL News: 2022 Schedule, coaches announced for 2023 NA3HL Top Prospects

To view more information about the 2023 Top Prospects Tournament, please visit the tournament webpage:

NEXT CONTEST:  The 2023 Top Prospects Tournament concludes with the final day of action on Tuesday, February 7th with each of the six teams in action for one game apiece. The Frontier Division will start the day with a game against the South Division starting at 6:00AM (MST) or 8:00AM (local time) followed by the NAPHL team challenging the Central Division at 7:30AM (MST) or 9:30AM (local time) and the East Division playing the West Division at 10:30AM (MST) or 12:30PM (local time).