January 17, 2022

Top 5 performances at the All-American Prospects Game

The showcase definitely showed up.

The 2022 BioSteel All-American Prospects game was held on Monday, and this year’s event was the most competitive showing we’ve seen in the game’s history. Team Blue stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to force overtime thanks to some late game heroics from Rutger McGroarty — one of the US National Team Development Program’s top players — landing him the Player of the Game nod.

This year we saw the USNTDP and the USHL stars combine to make two loaded rosters and created a more competitive showcase.

And there were a lot of performances that deserve special recognition.

Here are five players that stood out in the single-game exhibition, in no particular order.

Lane Hutson, Team White (USNTDP)

Lane Hutson is kind of forgotten sometimes when talking about National Team Development Program defenseman because of standout teammates Seamus Casey and Ryan Chesley, but his performance in Monday’s game is a great reminder that he is worthy of similar hype his teammates get. The most productive defenseman in the NTDP this year, Hutson managed to pick up an assist for Team White, but the assist isn’t why he’s one of the top performers. Few blueliners were able to drive transition play and make highly skilled plays in this game, but Hutson definitely did.

“Hutson’s on-puck skills and maneuverability were elite and he was able to leverage that talent to push the pace with his feet and his passing,” FCHockey scout Shaun Richardson said. “Hutson is a great example of someone who plays the game on his terms, his first instinct is to attack open ice with the puck on his stick but, when that gets shutdown, he always has a plan B.” 

Connor Kurth, Team White (Dubuque)

Connor Kurth brought his momentum from the USHL season into the All-American Prospects Game. The Fighting Saints forward was able to display his skating ability, offensive prowess, and his playmaking ability for Team White. Not only did Kurth set up the first goal of the game with a great drive to the slot and a nifty pass to fellow Fighting Saints teammate Stephen Halliday, but he was also a shot-generating machine. Kurth created a number of quality scoring chances, especially in the third period and was credited with four shots on goal for the game.

Kurth, who was highlighted as a player to watch heading into the event, stepped up to the plate in a big way in this showcase.

Jimmy Snuggerud, Team Blue (USNTDP)

Jimmy Snuggerud has been one of the best players at the NTDP this season, and he managed to stand out as one of the better players on Team Blue with his performance. He used his NHL-level shot to score a beautiful goal from distance, and was a driving force for Team Blue’s offensive attack. He’s been a popular riser in draft rankings since the season began and if he can continue to string together impressive offensive performances like the one in this game, his stock is only going to continue to rise as we approach the 2022 NHL Draft.

“Snuggerud shined driving play alongside NTDP teammates McGroarty and Gauthier,” FCHockey scout Josh Thomas said. “The highlight of his game was utilizing his wicked shot release for a bar down snipe from between the top of the circles and blue line and then to cap it off.”

Logan Cooley, Team White (USNTDP)

Logan Cooley is one of, if not the best American-born skater available in the 2022 draft, and while the scoresheet may not dictate it, he was arguably the best forward in this game. Not only did Cooley notch an assist on for Team White, but he was able to show his play-driving ability at both ends of the ice. With the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, Cooley was calm and in control on every shift.

He could seemingly create anything he wanted and was a factor every time he stepped skate on the ice. Although there were a few errant passes, it was easy to see Cooley is a force to be reckoned with in the offensive zone. Defensively he was impactful as well, making a few great plays to break up some potential rushes and he was consistently in the right place and knew where his defensive assignment was. He is a potential top-line two-way center at the next level, and he gave a glimpse as to why with his showing in tis game. 

Rutger McGroarty, Team Blue (USNTDP)

The third period hero for Team Blue, McGroarty picked a clutch moment to step up and deliver a key goal for his team. He got sprung by a Cutter Gauthier stretch pass and managed to outmuscle Luke Mittelstadt before driving the puck to the high-slot and delivering a beautiful shot into the top corner of the net — tying the game at three and forcing overtime.  

“He came in clutch after using his speed to separate from the opposing defensemen and receive a pass for a breakaway that he finished off using his angle to beat the netminder over his shoulder,” Thomas said. “Thanks to the goal he gave his team the opportunity to win the game in the extra frame and earn the Player of the Game honors.”

A few other’s who deserve some recognition for their performances are Brady Berard (NTDP), who scored a goal and had six shots, Gauthier (NTDP) who picked up two assists for Team Blue, and Cole Knuble (Fargo), who scored on a nifty backhander in the third period.

The United States’ crop is pretty strong for 2022, and this game was a nice showcase of some of the top players this year’s draft class has to offer.

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