AMARILLO, TX – There will be a familiar face behind the bench of the South Division when the North American Hockey League’s Top Prospects Tournament hits the ice in Troy, Michigan on February 17 and 18.
Amarillo Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams will lead the South Division for a third year in a row and with that, five of his players will join him. Topeka RoadRunners Head Coach Scott Langer will be Williams’ assistant during the tournament.
The Bulls currently have the highest winning percentage of any team in the NAHL at .732. The South Division roster will also consist of four members of the RoadRunners, while the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, Wichita Falls Wildcats and Corpus Christi IceRays will each send three. The Lone Star Brahmas send two players. For this event only, the Odessa Jackalopes will send two of its players for the Central Division.
“I’m honored to be leading the South for a third straight year,” said Williams during Monday night’s Amarillo Bulls Radio Show. “It’s important for us to get those two extra players which is the difference from first to third. It’s a great accomplishment by our team and well deserved.”
Williams said the Top Prospects event is also a terrific opportunity for coaches to network with the various colleges that will be there.
“Even though the other coaches aren’t there our job still as honorary coaches is to not only promote our guys but the whole team,” he said. “We do have a feel for the players because we see them a half a dozen times or more during the year.”
The head coach of the Central team will be Chris Tok from the Austin Bruins and the assistant coach will be Layne Sedevie from the Bismarck Bobcats. The Midwest team will be led by Head Coach Trevor Stewart of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Corey Millen of the Minnesota Wilderness. Michael Gershon of the Port Huron Fighting Falcons will coach the North Division along with Moe Mantha from the Michigan Warriors.
The Head Coaches of each Top Prospect Team will make final roster decisions after considering the player nominations submitted by individual teams. Top Prospects Head Coaches will finalize their rosters by 5:00pm CST on January 23rd. Top Prospects rosters for all teams will be formally announced on Tuesday, January 28th on nahl.com.
In a very short period of time, the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament has become one of the most highly-scouted events of its kind. Last season, over 170 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. Over a third of the players that competed in last year’s event ended up with an NCAA Division I opportunity. Combined with the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament and NAPHL Championship series, it will make for an exciting week of hockey and provides a great opportunity for every scout and coach to get a close look the talent in the three leagues.
While the four NAHL divisional teams will play amongst each other at the event, the NAHL 18U Selects Team will face a yet to be named opponent on Monday, February 17th and then will face USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (NTDP) U17 Team on Tuesday, February 18th. This offers a unique opportunity for the NAHL and the NTDP to participate in a high-profile event in cooperation with one another. The NAHL and the NTDP have a rich and productive 12-year history together, as the NTDP was a full-time member of the NAHL from 1997-2009. The U.S. National Under-17 Team is coached by Don Granato and is coming off winning the World U17 Challenge title back in January 4th in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Only those NAHL players without an NCAA commitment are eligible to participate in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, with the exception of those who will be playing on the NAHL 18U Selects team. Each of the teams will consist of a 20-man roster (12 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goaltenders).
2014 NAHL Top Prospects schedule:
Monday, February 17th: North vs. South, 1pm – Central vs. Midwest, 3:30pm – NAHL 18U Selects vs. TBA, 6pm
Tuesday, February 18th: Central vs. South, 1pm – Midwest vs. North, 3:30pm – NAHL 18U Selects vs. USNTDP 17-Team, 6pm