Ethan Phillips and Brady Meyer each had a goal and an assist to help Team West to a 5-3 win against Team East in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, at Ice Box in Lincoln, Nebraska on Tuesday.
The game featured 40 of the top players eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft playing in the United States Hockey League. Players for the game were selected by NHL general managers and scouts, NHL Central Scouting and USHL general managers.
Here are 5 things we learned:
Phillips making an easy adjustment to USHL
Phillips, who was Most Valuable Player for Team West, has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 17 games with Sioux Falls. The 17-year-old forward joined the Stampede on Oct. 19 after starting the season with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 21 games with South Kent School in Connecticut.
He opened the scoring when he shot the puck while in front of the net at 12:40 of the first period, then made a nice pass off the wall ahead to Meyer, who scored to make it 3-0 at 2:50 of the second period.
Phillips, a 5-foot-9, 148-pound right-shot center who played right wing Tuesday, received a C rating from NHL Central Scouting on its December Players to Watch list. He’s committed to Boston University.
“He’s a deceivingly good skater,” Central Scouting’s David Gregory said. “His mobility and his quickness … he can do everything at pace. He thinks the game so well that it slows it down for him. He can make plays, he can contribute. He came into this league and he’s producing at a much higher level (than prep school) because he’s playing with much better players. If he’s got better players with him, better things are going to happen. That kind of high-end hockey sense translates really well, especially when you have the skating to go with it.”
Mastrosimone brings the offense
Forward Robert Mastrosimone (5-10, 158) scored two goals, had a Team East-high six shots on goal and was named Team East’s MVP.
Mastrosimone, who turns 18 on Jan. 24, tipped a shot in the slot by Grant Silianoff off a Team West player, got the loose puck and scored with 1:54 left in the second period to get Team East within 4-2.
Then at 10:51 of the third, he took a rink-wide pass from Trevor Janicke, raced down the left side and scored from the left circle to make it 5-3.
Mastrosimone has 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 22 games with Chicago. The B-rated skater is committed to Boston University next season.
It’s already been a strong season for Mastrosimone, who had five points (three goals, two assists) in five games for the United States at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August, and four points (two goals, two assists) in six games for the U.S. at the World Junior A Challenge in December.
“He’s got a great release and an NHL-ready shot,” Gregory said. “He’s just got a knack for finishing. People like guys who figure out how to score.”
Firstov earned his A
Forward Vladislav Firstov, the only player in the game to receive an A rating from Central Scouting, had two shots on goal and a minus-2 rating playing right wing on the top line for Team East.
Born in Yaroslavl, Russia, Firstov (6-0, 181) has 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 31 games with Waterloo, and scouts have been impressed with how quickly the 17-year-old has adjusted in his first season on the smaller ice in North America. He’s committed to the University of Connecticut for next season.
“He’s adapted so well to the league and has so many pro elements to his game,” Gregory said. “He’s got an NHL-ready shot; he can really fire it. He’s a big-bodied power forward that can possess the puck really well in traffic (and) his hockey sense is really good.”
Saville’s saves stand out
Goalie Isaiah Saville (6-1, 193), who started the game for Team West, made the best save of the game when stretched to get his right pad on a chance in close by Team East’s Ryan Drkulic at 9:49 of the first period. The 18-year-old made 10 saves on 11 shots in 29:19 of ice time Tuesday.
Saville, a C-rated player by Central Scouting, leads the USHL with a 1.70 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in 19 games with Tri-City. He’s committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
“He clearly was the best goalie in the game for me,” Gregory said. “He just has a poise and a calmness. These games tend to have a little more sloppy defensive play and breakdowns right in front of you, and the goalies have be super-focused and he was. His technique was really strong. There were some very impressive saves and some really simple, calm ones. He looks effortless at times, very calm and cool in the net. Very confident too, which you like to see.”
Malone makes most of late arrival
Forward Jack Malone (6-1, 191) was added to the prospects game roster Friday as an injury replacement but made the most of his opportunity, scoring a goal and playing right wing on Team West’s top line.
The 18-year-old has 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 24 games with Youngstown. He received a C rating from Central Scouting after being passed over in the 2018 NHL Draft. He’s committed to Cornell University.
“He’s got a lot of pro assets to his game,” Gregory said. “He plays a game that will translate going to the next level because he can battle in traffic and play against bigger guys, has good hands, good compete and nice skill, and the ability to skate. It’s a nice package there.”