Silvertips’ Hart excited for chance to play in Top Prospects Game

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Everett Silvertips goaltender Carter Hart made his way along the rubber mats laid over the concrete en route the Pacific Coliseum ice with the rest of Team Orr Wednesday afternoon.

As he did so, Moose Jaw Warriors netminder Zach Sawchenko, who is playing for Team Cherry at Thursday night’s BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, shot Hart a smile and a nod.

“Looking good, Hartsie,” Sawchenko told his off-ice friend and on-ice adversary, as Hart trudged by.

Hart and Sawchenko, ranked Nos. 1 and 3, respectively among North American goaltenders in the current NHL Central Scouting rankings, are among the top 40 draft-eligible CHL players here at the Top Prospects Game. It’s the first time Vancouver has played host to the event since 2005.

“We’re competitors, but we’re friends off the ice,” Sawchenko said. “On the ice I think both of us can say we’ll do anything for our teams to win, but off the ice we’re good friends.”

The event included combine-like on-ice testing Wednesday and media sessions afterward. The game itself begins at 6 p.m. Thursday night and will be televised on NHL Network.

For many the midweek event also serves as a reunion of sorts. A number of this year’s players competed for Team Canada at last year’s U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Europe. Sawchenko and Hart were teammates with that group.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” Hart said. “Coming here and seeing all your buddies that you played with in the summer and seeing them and getting this opportunity is really special.”

Legendary NHL defenseman Bobby Orr, coaches the team that bears his name and currently holds a five-game winning streak over the team led by former NHL head coach and broadcaster Don Cherry.

Hart’s teammates Thursday include the likes of Matthew Tkachuk of the OHL’s London Knights, the top-rated North American skater, Alexander Nylander of the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads (No. 3-ranked skater) and Pierre-Luc Dubois of Cape Breton of the QMJHL (No. 7).

Sawchenko will play behind Jakob Chychrun of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting (No. 2-ranked skater), Julien Gauthier of the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL (No. 4) and Michael McLeod of Mississauga (No. 6).

Unlike traditional all-star games, the Top Prospects Game has a reputation for being very competitive. Players are in their draft year and looking to improve their stock any way they can.

The players’ competitiveness caught Cherry by surprise when he first started coaching the event.

“It was like the seventh game of the Stanley Cup and they were ready to go,” Cherry said. “No kidding around. It’s like the dressing room here. You’d think the kids would be throwing tape and having fun, but they know there’s going to be 200 scouts and general managers and everything out there.”

Hart, who is about as unflappable as 17-year-olds come, isn’t getting caught up in either the rankings or the bevy of scouts who will be present.

“It’s just one game, right?” he said. “It’s not going to dictate your future. We have 30 regular-season games left and it’s just one stepping stone.”

Hart has received attention all season long, but the degree of attention has ramped up considerably since the draft rankings came out last week. He’s the first Silvertips goaltender to hit the No. 1 ranking in team history.

Dan Marr, the director of NHL Central Scouting, said Hart’s focus and mental toughness make him stand out among other elite goaltenders.

“He’s got all the athletic abilities of quickness and reflexes that you want to see in goalies, but his concentration — the way he can track and follow the puck — he’s just sharp,” Marr said. “He’s mentally sharp all the time. He arrives on time, he sees the play develop and he’s very, very focused. That mental toughness is the key ingredient for a player that wants to play in the National Hockey League.”

Hart did allow himself to break into an easy smile during Wednesday afternoon’s on-ice session. If he continues to play as well as he has this season, that smile will be even bigger in June when he hears his name called from the stage at the NHL draft in Buffalo, N.Y.

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.

Talk to us

More in Sports

The Shorecrest bench reacts to a missed shot in the final seconds of regular time to send the game against Arlington to overtime on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Arlington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Wave of cancellations wreaking havoc on winter prep sports

‘It’s just been so hard’: Canceled games and program shutdowns have been commonplace for local teams.

Stanwood's Kaeden McGlothin yells after stealing the ball from Mountlake Terrace's Adison Mattix to seal the win for Stanwood on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Stanwood pulls out ‘gritty’ win over Mountlake Terrace

The Spartans answered every Mountlake Terrace push in a tense fourth quarter for a 63-62 victory.

Winter prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Friday, Jan. 21

Prep results for Friday, Jan. 21: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Chicago State guard Aaliyah Collins, a Glacier Peak High School graduate. (Sebastian Montoya / Chicago State Athletics)
Community roundup: GP grad shines again for Chicago State

Plus, professional bull riding is coming to Everett, former Silvertips are headed to the Olympics and more.

Jackson's Lindyn Solis bowls during a match against Everett on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Jackson, Everett girls bowlers hit the lanes

The Timberwolves brought a 13-1 record into the match with the state tournament fast approaching.

Tucker Molina, right, tries to block a shot by Tony MacArthur during EVCC practice on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
EvCC men’s hoops seeks unprecedented 5th straight North title

After a delayed start to region play, the Trojans begin their quest for another crown on Wednesday.

Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15
Silvertips’ game versus Rockets on Friday postponed

Kelowna is pausing all team activites due to COVID protocols, according to the WHL.

Lake Stevens' Tyler Fouts lifts Glacier Peak's Gil Mossburg during wrestling on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Lake Stevens edges GP in boys wrestling showdown

The Vikings beat the Grizzlies 42-31 in a matchup of two of the best 4A teams in the area.

Most Read