LINCOLN, Neb. – Sioux Falls Stampede forward Ethan Phillips took home team MVP honors at the 2019 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, scoring a goal and an assist for Team West in a 5-3 victory against the Team East at the Ice Box on Tuesday. Phillips becomes the first Stampede player to win the award under the current format. Robert Mastrosimone (Chicago) was named Team East MVP.
“I wanted to come here and have a good showing and, thankfully, had some good line mates to play with,” said Phillips after the game. “It was a good win for the team.”
The annual prospects game in its seventh year hosted by the United States Hockey League (USHL) and National Hockey League (NHL) highlights the top 2019 NHL Draft eligible players from across the league in a conference showcase. A team record and league-high six players represented Sioux Falls and the Western Conference.
Although Phillips was the only player to break the official statistics, Sioux Falls forwards Andre Lee, Anthony Romano, Austen Swankler and Jami Krannila, Phillips’ line mate in the contest, and defenseman Ryan Johnson made their presence known in front of hundreds of NHL scouts. All six Sioux Falls players registered at least one shot on goal in the contest.
Team East began the seventh annual prospects game applying pressure and taking several shots against Team West and Tri-City Storm goaltender Isaiah Saville. The league-leading net minder met the challenge, stopping all 10 shots faced in the period.
Stampede forward Phillips broke the draw 7:20 in the first period, directing a loose puck in front of Muskegon Lumberjacks goaltender Keegan Karki into the back of the net for Team West.
Two minutes later, Youngstown Phantoms forward Jack Malone picked up a blocked shot from the point and put it past Karki for the 2-0 lead. Des Moines Buccaneers forward Matt Brown provided the assist on the score.
Team West continued the onslaught with a goal three minutes into the second period. Phillips found Des Moines forward Brady Meyer from the right wall in front of the net for the assist.
Central Illinois Flying Aces forward Lynden Breen and Chicago Steel forward Robert Mastrosimone both found the back of the net in an attempted comeback, but a goal from Lincoln Stars forward Shane Pinto left Team East behind 4-2 after two periods.
Sioux City Musketeers goaltender Ben Kraws replaced Saville who stopped 10 of 11 shots midway through the period. On the other side, Waterloo Black Hawks netminder Logan Stein replaced Karki who allowed three goals on 16 shots faced.
In the third period, Lee ripped the puck from the blue line to newly acquired Fargo Force forward Kaden Bohlsen who tipped it in front of Stein for the 5-2 lead. Mastrosimone answered back for Team East for his second goal of the night halfway through the period, but it would not be enough as Team West won 5-3.
Goaltender Kraws finished the game allowing two goals on 18 shots, while Stein stopped twelve of fourteen shots faced.