Hometown Heroes ready to lead Team Cherry

Written for the CHL by Steven Perko of

The trio of Halifax Mooseheads are anxious to excite the hometown crowd at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

Team Cherry has a lot more fire power than simply the Mooseheads, here’s a quick look at some players to watch tonight:

Team Cherry

Don Cherry makes his 14th appearance behind the bench in the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, the most of any coach in the 17-year history of the showcase.

Some of the NHL stars to play for him include Corey Perry, Daniel Briere, Jason Spezza, Derek Roy and Ryan Getzlaf.

Team Cherry is coming off a 2-1 win in the 2012 game led by coach Pat Quinn, but has never won in back-to-back seasons.

Hometown player Zach Fucale is one of Team Cherry’s goaltenders.  Fucale leads all CHL netminders in wins and sits 2nd in the QMJHL in goals against average.  Earlier this season, he became the fastest 17-year-old goaltender to reach 50 career wins in the QMJHL. Pairing with Fucale is Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings. After posting back-to-back shutouts in his last two games, Jarry now owns the best goals against average in the CHL.  He’s given up more than three goals in a game only once in 15 starts.

Two players who will feel right at home during the game are Canadian National Junior Team members Nate MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.  MacKinnon leads the Mooseheads in scoring and has recorded 17 multi-point games so far this season.   He is among the QMJHL leaders in plus/minus, dangerous shots and game-winning goals. Drouin has recently become a household name after shooting up the rankings on draft boards and impressing at the recent World Jr. Championship in Ufa.  Something to watch is if Ryan Hartman of the Plymouth Whalers joins the two Halifax players on a line. Hartman was a member of the gold medal-winning Team USA where he scored 2 goals and 1 assist in 7 games.  He recorded his first career OHL hat trick on the weekend, with the third goal coming in overtime. 

A player to watch on the blueline for Team Cherry is Darnell Nurse of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Nurse will be an assistant captain for Team Cherry.  He’s recorded seven multi-point games this season and two game-winning goals.  Nurse is averaging almost two penalty minutes per game. A couple of players joining Nurse are Josh Morrissey of the Prince Albert Raiders and Sam Morin of the Rimouski Oceanic.  Morin is one of four Rimouski players participating in the game.  He has size and skill and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves.  Morrissey’s 12 goals are the most among defenceman participating in the game.  He’s already recorded four 3-point games this season and is currently on a 3-game goal streak.

It will be interesting to watch the four Rimouski players battle it out in this game. Morin and Frederik Gauthier will be shooting pucks on their Oceanic netminder, Philippe Desrosiers.  Seeing the 6’5” centre Gauthier match up in a one-on-one battle against defensive teammate Jan Kostalek would be exciting.

Catch the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game live across Canada on Wednesday January 16 at 7:00 pm Eastern on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, and on the NHL Network in the United States.

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