Each January, the NHL and Canadian Junior A Hockey League brings together the best draft eligible junior A players from across Canada for a showcase game.
This year, the Canmore Eagles have placed one of their own on the roster of the CJHL's Prospects Game to be played later this month – not to be confused with the Canadian Hockey League/NHL Top Prospects Game which involves major junior players.
Cochrane's Adam Tisdale is in his sophomore season with the Alberta Junior Hockey League Eagles and was named to the Prospects Game Team West squad – an indication of his status as one of the top junior A players available for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. This year's Prospects Game will be played Wednesday, Jan. 25 in Cornwall, Ont. (Ed Lumley Arena, 5:30 MT).
“I knew going into the season [about the Prospects Game] but I didn't think about it too much,” said Tisdale, who is third on the Eagles in scoring with 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 34 games. “I knew personally I had a chance but even going into the break I didn't think about [being selected] until Andrew (Milne, Eagles GM and head coach) told me I had been named to the team.”
As the Eagles prepare to renew this season's AJHL campaign on Sunday, against the Camrose Kodiaks on Jan. 1 (6 p.m., Canmore Recreation Centre), the 18-year-old is riding a five-game points streak (4 goals, 4 assists).
Tisdale began his hockey journey in his hometown of Cochrane, competing with local teams right up through his first year of midget. Then came a season with the Calgary Northstars of the Alberta Midget Hockey League where he counted 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists) in 34 games. He also caught the eye of the Eagles, appearing in three games and scoring two goals.
In his rookie season of 2015-16, the 5-foot-10, 170 lbs. forward appeared in all 60 regular-season games and counted 38 points (10 goals, 28 assists) and was named the team's most improved player over the course of the season.
“It is a feather in the cap for how hard he has worked,” said Milne. “It's an opportunity to now showcase in front of a whole whack of different people, scouts and colleges and show just how good a player he is.
Even before his selection, Milne had Tisdale pegged for bigger things following his time with the Eagles.
“I think we will see him next season but not (as a 20-year-old) as he will have a scholarship the next season,” Milne said before the team went on its Christmas break. “He is on the right path. His point-production is pointing out ahead of both (Logan) Ferguson and (Matt) Forchuk at that age.”
Tisdale calls it a “real honour” to be selected to the game, although he downplays the idea of being selected during the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago in June.
“I don't know, I can't really think about that too much. I just need to focus on my team right now,” said Tisdale, adding his goal in playing at the junior A level is to secure an NCAA Div. 1 hockey scholarship.
Canmore Eagles' goaltender Sam Brittain was selected for the 2010 Prospects Game in Dauphin, Man. It was then a two-game series, with Team East winning both games, 2-1 in a shootout and 7-1. Brittain went on to play four years at the University of Denver. He is currently with the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL.
Other AJHL players selected to this year's Team West include goaltender Connor Dochuk (Spruce Grove Saints, Edmonton), defence Jarrod Gourlay (Spruce Grove, Calgary), Matthew Holzer (Olds Grizzlies, Sturgeon County), Cale Makar (Brooks Bandits, Calgary), Ian Mitchell (Spruce Grove, Calahoo), forwards Kyler Kupka (Camrose Kodiaks, Camrose) and Cody Laskosky (Whitecourt Wolverines, New Norway).
The remainder of the 20-man Team West roster is comprised of players from the B.C. and Saskatchewan junior A leagues. The Team East roster is comprised of players from the Central Canada, Ontario Junior, Quebec Junior and Northern Ontario leagues.
The Prospects Game has been played every year since 2005 with the series standings at six wins apiece, including a Team West 3-1 victory in January 2016 in Surrey, B.C.
EAGLES NEST: Canmore will host Camrose twice as the new year begins. In addition to the New Year's Day game, the Eagles and Kodiaks will also meet on Monday (2:30 p.m., Canmore Recreation Centre. … The Eagles (19-12-4, fifth place) are three points back of the Kodiaks (21-13-3, fourth place) in the South Division standings. … The two teams have split the other two meetings between the clubs this season with the Kodiaks winning 2-1 in Canmore on Oct. 18 and the Eagles winning 4-1 in Camrose. … Eagles linemates Matt Forchuk, at 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists), and Logan Ferguson, at 50 points (20 goals, 30 assists), are currently 1-2 in the AJHL scoring race.
Photo by: Pam Doyle Photography