The Canadian Hockey League in association with the Western Hockey League, the Kelowna Rockets Hockey Club, and Home Hardware Stores Limited, today announced that the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be held at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, home of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday February 1, 2012.
“The Canadian Hockey League is very excited to bring the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game to Kelowna,” said CHL President David Branch. “This event is highly anticipated by our players who have the opportunity to showcase their skills for Kelowna Rockets’ fans and before the eyes of all 30 NHL teams in attendance and CHL fans nationwide watching live on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS.”
The 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will mark the 17th annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL draft eligible players featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The two-day event also features an exciting skills competition and three-on-three challenge taking place on Tuesday January 31, 2012.
“On behalf of more than 1,080 Home Hardware Dealers across Canada, we look forward to heading west to the Okanagan Valley for the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Paul Straus, President and CEO of Home Hardware Stores Limited. “As title partner of this event for 13 straight years we continue to enjoy watching these players bring excitement to hockey fans across the country as they prepare for careers in the NHL.”
This marks the second time the event will be held in British Columbia following 2005 when it was played in Vancouver. It is also the sixth time it will be hosted in Western Canada and the first since 2008 when it was played in Edmonton, AB.
“The Kelowna Rockets are thrilled to host the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Prospera Place,” said Rockets President and General Manager Bruce Hamilton. “This event provides our fans the chance to see the next wave of NHL talent from across the CHL while we have the opportunity to showcase our community to the hundreds of NHL personnel in attendance.”
The Rockets have had four players participate in this event in the last four seasons including 2008 first round picks Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres selected fourth overall, and Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs chosen one pick later at fifth overall. 2010 WHL Defenceman of the Year Tyson Barrie also competed in the 2009 event in Oshawa, ON, before being selected in the third round by the Colorado Avalanche. Most recently, Shane McColgan participated last season in Toronto, ON, before being selected in the fifth round by the New York Rangers. Notable Rockets graduate and Olympic Gold Medalist Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators also competed in the 2003 event held in Kitchener, ON, before being selected in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 10 players that were selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft including Chris Phillips, Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Rick Nash, Marc-Andre Fleury, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who was named Player of the Game for Team Orr following a 7-1 win over Team Cherry at the 2011 event in Toronto before being selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in June.
Nugent-Hopkins was one of 19 CHL players from the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that were selected among the record 21 CHL players chosen in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft along with Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs who was selected third overall, and Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs who was selected fifth overall..