Nugent-Hopkins shines as White colours Red 5-4
National Junior Development Camp wraps up with Red-White game at Rexall Place
Team White's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goes head-to-head with Team Red's Michael Sgarbossa in a draw Saturday night at Rexall Place. White came away with a 5-4 victory. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Hockey Canada).
Team Red established a commanding 4-1 lead in the game's third period, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins helped orchestrate an equally as impressive comeback. The Oilers prospect scored twice, including the game-winning marker with only 20 seconds to play, as White overcame the odds with a 5-4 victory Saturday night at Rexall Place.
Shots and scoring chances were scarce in the opening few minutes, but physical play certainly wasn't. Looking to avenge Thursday's loss to Team Red in a controlled scrimmage, White set a brisk pace with several bone-crunching hits early on. Camp standout Devante Smith-Pelly's brand was most noticeable, sending 6'7" Jamie Oleksiak to his rear near the six-minute mark.
Smith-Pelly was back at it again at 7:36 when he sent Oilers prospect Dillon Simpson into the boards from behind near Team White's bench. The incident went unpenalized, play continued and a staggering Simpson skated off cautiously to recoup.
By the midway point, Red held a slim 5-4 edge on the shot clock but couldn't solve rock-solid Oilers pick Tyler Bunz.
Team Red's Erik Gudbranson welcomed opposition forward Phillip Danault to the party when he laid the body, sending him to the ice in a heap and arousing the packed crowd at Rexall Place.
The play also seemed to ignite his teammates. Moments later, a connection between Red's Ryan Strome and Jonathan Huberdeau tested Bunz, but the young netminder made a diving stop to preserve the scoreless mark.
At 16:49, Team Red was credited with the game's first power-play when White's Joe Morrow was assessed a minor penalty for kneeing. A drive by Oleksiak squeaked through Bunz late in the opportunity, putting Red up 1-0 with only 1:28 to play in the period.
White was quick to respond, scoring the tying marker only 59 seconds later. From his knees at the goal-mouth, Christian Thomas reached and beat Mark Visentin up top with a spectacular move.
After one period of play, Team White held a 12-10 advantage over Red on the shot clock but was even in a 1-1 score.
White came out strong in the game's middle frame, peppering Visentin with four shots in the opening minute. The veteran World Junior netminder turned aside Nugent-Hopkins and Schwartz with a a pair of dazzling denials and the game remained in a 1-1 deadlock.
Although White stepped up on the shot clock, Red cashed on the scoreboard. A terrific behind-the-back pass by Mark Stone set up Florida prospect Jonathan Huberdeau with a tap-in, setting the score 2-1 at 3:00.
At the second's 10-minute mark, Red carried a 21-18 lead in shots and continued to hold a 2-1 edge on the scoreboard. Mark Visentin and Tyler Bunz vacated the crease at this time, making way for backups Louis Domingue and Scott Wedgewood to complete the game.
At 10:33, Red's Jamie Oleksiak was forced to take a hooking penalty, sending White to the power-play for the first time. Several quality scoring chances were generated, but none were converted in the two-minute duration.
With under four minutes to play in the stanza, Red's Cody Ceci–the youngest player to participate in this week's camp–cranked a blast, beating Wedgewood but not the crossbar.
With 40 minutes elapsed, Team Red continued to lead 2-1, extending its advantage on the shot clock to a 30-24 edge in the process.
Looking to even the score early, White's Smith-Pelly helped create a marvelous chance on goal. Once he gained the line, a double-teamed attack allowed him to dish to teammate Ryan Murphy. The smooth-skating blueliner danced in alone, but Domingue made a remarkable quick-pad save to keep his team's lead intact.
Red responded once again, applying furious pressure that eventually resulted in another power-play opportunity; Boone Jenner was flagged for holding at 3:18. Red wasted no time, extending to a 3-1 lead when Ryan Johansen set up Mark Stone for a tap-in only nine seconds into the advantage.
The Johansen-Stone combo paid dividends moments later as well, putting Red on top by three at 5:01. Stone took a clever dish from Johansen before hammering a blast past Wedgewood glove-side, making it a 4-1 game on his team's 40th shot.
The game's MVP (at the time), Devante Smith-Pelly, brought White back into it 1:02 later when he sniped a laser that eluded a stick-less Domingue upstairs. Eigthth overall pick Sean Couturier picked up an assist on the play with a smart keep at the line to kickstart the chance.
As the midway point passed, Red held a two-goal advantage, leading 4-2 and 43-33 on the shot clock.
White was given another power-play opportunity when Oleksiak took his second minor of the game for interference. At 7:52, the trailing squad orchestrated a beautiful one-touch sequence, capped with a cross-ice feed from Smith-Pelly to Quinton Howden for the goal
Surging with energy and looking for the equalizer, Oilers prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got it done. With only 3:28 to play, a goal-mouth scramble allowed Nugent-Hopkins to gather quick possession before spinning and sliding a backhand shot past Domingue.
That goal was the precursor to an exciting conclusion. Nugent-Hopkins was at it again, deking around Jonathan Huberdeau in Team Red's end before snapping a quick shot through Domingue, putting White up 5-4 with only 20 seconds to play.
That goal would stand as the winner, as Team White emerged victorious in a thrilling come-from-behind win, 5-4.
Follow Ryan Dittrick on Twitter | @ryandittrick