Going into its eighth year, over 300 players have now had the opportunity to participate in a GTHL Top Prospects Game. Names like Mitch Marner and Connor McDavid are now synonymous with elite hockey talent, but like many alumni, the GTHL Top Prospects Game was their first taste of playing on a big stage.
“The GTHL Top Prospects Game was definitely one of the more large scale games I played in, in terms of playing in front of a big crowd with a lot of scouts,” said current Niagara IceDogs centreman and Toronto Marlboros Alumni Akil Thomas. “It was really fun playing with the same guys you battle against all year and it’s a great experience that I will remember forever.”
Since his Top Prospects debut last season, Thomas has played a key role in the IceDogs lineup and was named assistant captain for Team Canada White at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Thomas’ Top Prospects and Marlboros teammate Allan McShane shares similar sentiments about his own Top Prospects experience, extending his advice to players headed into Tuesday’s game.
“Don’t get caught up in scouts watching, and a large crowd, be proud because this game represents you as the top players in one of the best minor hockey leagues there is,” said McShane, who currently plays for the Erie Otters. “Feel natural and enjoy the opportunity you’ve been given – it won’t come again.”
Former GTHL Top Prospects and Toronto Marlboros coach Steve Devine echoed McShane’s advice.
“Keep your game simple”, emphasized Devine. “Lots of people watching and in the arena, but playing your style of hockey which got you selected is the best plan.”
Playing in the Ontario Hockey League, both Thomas and McShane make up the majority of GTHL Top Prospects Alumni. A total of 63% of all players who have participated in a GTHL Top Prospects Game have made their way to the OHL, while 49% have played in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), including Oakville Blades forward Matt Hayami.
“I count it as one of the highlights of my Minor Midget season,” said Hayami who also played in the OHL Cup with his Toronto Red Wings squad. “Just have fun and enjoy the moment.”
The 8th Annual GTHL Top Prospects Game Powered by Under Armour will take place Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at Scotiabank Pond in Downsview Park. Teams will be coached by NHL Alumni Nick Kypreos and former NHL coach and general manager Doug MacLean. Click here to purchase tickets.