5 things learned from All-American Game

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Pastujov (6-foot, 181 pounds), an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting’s March players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft, had two goals and an assist in a 7-1 win for Team NTDP against a team comprised of United States Hockey League players.

Redmond Savage, a B-rated center, and Liam Gilmartin, a C-rated left wing, each had a goal and an assist, and forwards Rutger McGroarty (2022 draft eligible), Jack Devine (2022 draft eligible), Isaac Howard (2022 draft eligible) each scored a goal for the NTDP. Goalie Kaiden Mbereko made 22 saves on 22 shots in playing the first two periods; Gibson Homer (2022 draft eligible) made four saves on five shots in the third.

NTDP defenseman Luke Hughes (6-2, 180), an A-rated player, was unable to participate in the game because of an undisclosed injury, but that shouldn’t alter his status as one o the top players for the 2021 draft. The 17-year-old, who is the youngest brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes, has scored 34 points (six goals, 28 assists) in 38 games for the NTDP U-18 team this season.

“Luke Hughes is one of the top prospects in the 2021 draft class and has played an almost complete season of games and has been well scouted,” director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. “This injury will not have any significant bearing on his draft ranking.”

Ryan Ufko, a B-rated defenseman with Chicago, scored for Team USHL. Matthew Coronato, an A-rated forward, had an assist and four shots on goal for Team USHL. Goalie Remington Keopple of Des Moines started and made 18 saves on 22 shots in playing half the game; Colin Purcell of Youngstown made six saves on nine shots. The goalies each are C-rated players.

Here are five things learned from the game:

 
Pastujov impresses

Pastujov, a projected first-round pick in the 2021 draft, showcased plenty of offensive flair and energy.

The 17-year-old had four shots on goal and was a plus-3. He leads the NTDP U-18 with 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 34 games, and his seven power-play goals are tied with left wing Dylan Duke (B rated) for the NTDP lead.

“I would say a majority of my game is my creativity … I like to think the game different ways,” Pastujov said. “I feel like I’ve grown the most in my 200-foot game; that’s been a big emphasis this year with the coaching staff.”

Pastujov is the first player to score two goals in the All-American Game since Matthew Boldy (Minnesota Wild), Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) and Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings) each did it in 2018.

“[Pastujov] wants the puck, he wants to be the guy, and he can be that trigger guy for a shot or a big-time play at a critical moment,” NTDP U-18 coach Dan Muse said.

 
Ufko highlights Chicago contingent

Ufko, a right-shot defenseman who is committed to the University of Massachusetts in 2022-23, was one of five players in the game from Chicago of the USHL.

“I think my offensive game has really took off this year compared to last year,” Ufko said. “The key to that was confidence. Last year I was the youngest on the team, not playing as much, and this year I have a bigger role and confidence was key. I put a lot of work in the weight room last year and over the summer and I really think that helped my offensive game.”

Ufko is second among USHL defensemen with 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games this season; he scored nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 43 games in 2019-20.

The 17-year-old was joined at the All-American Game by Chicago teammates Coronato, A-rated forward Mackie Samoskevich, B-rated forward Josh Doan, and C-rated defensemen Jack Harvey.

 
Continuing tradition of excellence

Pastujov is one of a number of players from the NTDP U-18 team that could hear his name called in the early rounds of the 2021 draft.

In addition to Hughes and Pastujov, the other NTDP player with an A rating is center Chaz Lucius (6-1, 185). The 17-year-old had two assists, two shots on goal and plus-2 rating in the win.

A knee injury kept Lucius out until Feb. 19, but in 12 games with the NTDP U-18 he has scored 18 points (13 goals, five assists).

“I haven’t been around a lot of guys who can shoot the puck the way [Lucius] does; he has that release and he’s also got that ability to make plays,” Muse said.

There were six NTDP players selected in the top two rounds of the 2020 NHL Draft, 10 at the 2019 NHL Draft and five at the 2018 NHL Draft.

 
Arizona reunion

The All-American Game was a reunion of sorts for Savage, Doan and Cole Sillinger of Sioux Falls, an A-rated forward. Their fathers, Brian Savage, Shane Doan and Mike Sillinger, were teammates with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003-04.

“We’ve talked about it a bit,” Josh Doan said. “It’s nice to get to kind of meet Cole because I’ve met him a couple times in the past but this is the first time we’ve really kind of got the hang out more than just a day or two.’Savi’ and I have known each other since we were very young, so it’s such a cool experience. It’s nice to see all these guys kind of just chit-chat and get to know each other more.”

NTDP forward Tyler Boucher, a B-rated player, missed the game because of a lower-body injury. His father, Brian Boucher, also played for the Coyotes in 2003-04.

“It’s pretty cool to see the little reunion we got going on here at this game to get our old buddies back together to be able to all say that we came from the same spot,” Redmond Savage said. “It’s pretty amazing to see how far the sport has come in Arizona and it’s really prideful to be able to say that since I was born and raised in Arizona.”

 
Big week for Peart

Jack Peart, a B-rated defenseman who on Monday received the Mr. Hockey Award as the top senior high school boys’ ice hockey player in Minnesota, was the only 2021 NHL Draft-eligible high school player participating in game.

Peart (5-11, 180) scored 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 18 games with Grand Rapids High School to become the first defenseman to win the Mr. Hockey Award since the New York Islanders’ Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie High School) in 2009. Peart also has 11 assists in 18 USHL games with Fargo.

“To play in the NHL today you just have to be the hardest-working player on the team,” Peart said. “I kind of model my game after Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks defenseman). I just like how he gets into the corners, he’s gritty, he rushes the puck, he’s offensive and defensive … he’s everything.”

The 17-year-old, who helped lead Grand Rapids to the Class 2A, Section 7 championship game, is committed to St. Cloud State in 2021-22. He’ll finish the season with Fargo.

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