USA HOCKEY TO HOST PROSPECTS GAME IN BUFFALO

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USA HOCKEY PROSPECTS GAME IN BUFFALO – USHL Next?

TJHN was there when USA Hockey and the Buffalo Sabres announced yesterday they will stage the first-ever All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 29, 2012, at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York.

The All-American Prospects Game will include 40 of the top American-born prospects eligible for the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The event will be similar to the Canadian Hockey League top prospects game annually held in January or February since 1992.

"It’s a concept we’ve been talking about for a couple of years and we’re excited to bring it to life in partnership with the Buffalo Sabres," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "The talent level on the First Niagara Center ice on Sept. 29 will be exceptional. We view this game as an opportunity to gain additional exposure for hockey and help influence growth of the sport through showcasing the future stars of the game."

"We’re extremely pleased to have this inaugural event come to Buffalo," said Ted Black, president of the Buffalo Sabres. "We’ve had a tremendous working relationship with USA Hockey and I know our fans will embrace All-American Prospects Game."

Black added: "It’ll be a wonderful event for us. It’s really about an investment in a relationship we have with USA Hockey, and with hockey in general. It’s not about selling an extra hot dog or an extra ticket. It’s about providing these types of opportunities to the city, and to elite hockey players, and to hockey in general. It’s really about promoting hockey, and promoting Buffalo as a hockey destination to keep it top of mind from the professional player and all the way down."

USA Hockey expects to announce the players selected to compete in the game in late June or early July.

"Players will come from junior hockey and college hockey, as well as the high school and prep school ranks," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "We’ll be in contact with NHL Central Scouting as we build the final list of players invited to compete in this inaugural event."

Johannson noted more information will be forthcoming, including how the teams will be divided and who will coach the teams. Ticket information is expected to be released in May.

It should also be noted that many conversations were had prior to and after the press conference relating to the much rumored move east by the USHL. When questioned, one official speaking on the condition of anonymity stated, "There are ongoing conversations with various persons that would like to be involved in bringing the highest level of junior hockey possible to Western New York. There are multiple groups involved in various talks, but we do expect to have junior hockey in the area in the near future."

When pressed, on who would own such a team and if Mr. Pegula owner of the Buffalo Sabres would be involved, the response was "Western New York is a great hockey area, and true hockey fans support all levels of hockey, we are sure they will continue to do so."

TJHN sources did confirm that three locations within the Buffalo area have been identified as being suited for a new arena that would meet USHL standards.

NOTES: Of the first 40 Americans selected in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 17 came from the United States Hockey League; seven were from U.S. high/prep schools; six played U.S. college hockey; six came from the Ontario Hockey League; four played in the Western Hockey League; and one competed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Under the current structure, players born between Jan. 1, 1993 and Sept. 14, 1995, will be eligible to be selected in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Kevin Kelly

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