LANGLEY, B.C. – Carson Rehkopft had a goal and an assist and Team White took a 4-2 win over Team Red at the Kubota CHL/NHL top prospects game in Langley, B.C.
Callum Ritchie (Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals) scored into an empty net and contributed a helper, while Colby Barlow (OHL’s Owen Sound Attack) and Luca Pinelli (OHL’s Ottawa 67’s) also scored for White in the annual showcase of 40 of the Canadian Hockey League’s top draft-eligible talents.
The game was played at Langley Events Centre, which is the home of the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants.
Red’s goals came from Mathieu Cataford (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads) early in the first period and Zach Benson (WHL’s Winnipeg ICE) with 36 seconds left on the clock.
White’s Scott Ratzlaff (WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds) made 24 saves before being replaced by Jackson Unger (WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors) midway through the second period. Unger stopped 21 shots in relief.
Carson Bjarnson (WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings) started for Red before coming off halfway through the game. Charlie Robertson (OHL’s North Bay Battalion) took over in net and stopped 11-of-13 shots.
In a surprising turn, Red captain Connor Bedard was held off the scoresheet. The 17-year-old star centre of the Regina Pats leads the WHL in points and is widely expected to go first overall at the NHL Entry Draft this summer.
Benson bit into White’s lead 19:24 into the game, blasting a shot past Unger.
Red pulled Robertson with 3:52 left on the clock in favour of an extra attacker and moments later Ritchie guided Rehkopf’s shot into the yawning net to make it 4-1.
Bedard appeared to get in the middle of the White celebration and was mobbed by his opponents, with fists flying.
Bedard was sent to the box for cross-checking.
Nate Danielson (Wheat Kings) set up White’s final goal midway through the third period, digging a puck out of the corner and tossed it to the slot, where Pinelli ripped a shot past the Red goalie to put his side up 3-1.
Rehkopf (OHL’s Kitchener Rangers) gave White the lead 3:53 into the final frame, streaking into Red territory through a pair of defenders and snapping a shot past Robertson.
Tempers flared just 29 seconds into the third when White’s Kalan Lind (WHL’s Red Deer Rebels) and Red’s Alex Pharand (OHL’s Sudbury Wolves) dropped the gloves. The pair exchanged blows over several moments before being separated by officials and sent to the box with fighting majors.
White nearly took the lead 14:32 into the second but a blistering shot from Brayden Yager (Moose Jaw Warriors) clanked off the post.
Earlier in the period, Red’s Riley Heidt (WHL’s Prince George Cougars) went for a highlight reel play, taking the puck around the back of the net and lifting it up on his stick in an attempt at “the Michigan.” Ratzlaf kept tight to his post, however, and the ensuing shot bounced off the goalie’s shoulder.
Barlow drew Team White even with a power-play goal 6:25 into the game after Red’s Coulson Pitre was sent to the box for holding.
Bjarnson stopped Barlow’s initial attempt but the rebound popped out to the left-winger and he fired another shot in over the goalie’s shoulder to tie the game 1-1.
Cataford opened the scoring for Red 3:22 into the opening frame. The centre unleashed a backhanded shot from the middle of the slot that snuck through traffic and past Ratzlaf stick side.
A strange moment before puck drop drew gasps from the crowd at the Langley Events Centre.
Team White was first to hit the ice and as they sprinted out of the tunnel, Dylan MacKinnon (Halifax Mooseheads) and Ethan Gauthier (QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix) tripped over a dark carpet stationed over a dark logo at centre ice and went flying face first down the rink. Teammate Callum Ritchie (OHL’s Oshawa Generals) followed suit moments later.
All three quickly bounced up, apparently uninjured, and went on to play the game.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.