Monday afternoon three St. Cloud Norsemen participated in their first of two games in the 2023 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament from the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, PA, the training facility of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The unique wrinkle of the format is that the three Norsemen weren’t all playing together. Duke Kiffin and Blake Perbix competed for Team Central, which was victorious over Team East 3-1, a team that has their Norsemen teammate Wyatt Wurst on it.
“Yeah, it definitely was a little weird playing against them but it was fun,” admits Wurst. “We had some good laughs when we got out against each other as well as some friendly chirps.”
The event is an annual showcase of some of the top talent in the NAHL and all players must either be uncommitted to a college team or listed in the NHL Central Scouting Rankings as there are countless NCAA and NHL scouts in attendance looking to see what players catch their eye to offer a spot on their college team or select in the NHL draft.
Kiffin talks about his experience with Central’s 3-1 victory over East. “The game went well, the Central meshed well together off the bat and didn’t look back,” Kiffin boasts. “It’s a cool experience, getting to know the other guys that plan in the Central and I thought we played a fast and hard style of hockey that we’re accustomed to in Central Division games week in and week out.”
While there’s no playoff format to the tournament, in fact the four teams each only get to play two of their three opponents. That means there’s one team that each team doesn’t get to face; as luck would have it, the two winners from Monday, Team Central and Team South, squared off Tuesday morning. In addition to Team Central defeating Team East 3-1 Team South was victorious over Team Midwest 7-3.
When asked if there’s a little more on the line since his Central team has a chance to be the only Top Prospects team without a loss, he doesn’t shy away from that thought at all. “Yes, for sure!” Perbix confirms. “I think we would like to show off how strong the Central is and winning is always the best!” Unfortunately, Team South prevailed in a close game by a final of 5-4 in that game.
Wurst’s Team East will compete Tuesday afternoon at 1:00 pm central time vs. Team Midwest. Both games can be watched online at www.hockeytv.com.
Also you can bid to win the game worn jerseys of the players that will be signed. Team Central’s jerseys can be found here: web.dashapp.io/team/nahl/event/63d2866685bb576b3137fec0. * Team East’s jerseys are here: web.dashapp.io/team/nahl/event/63d2868c85bb576b3137fec1.
*NOTE* – The company DASH that is putting on the auction still has Perbix’s Central #6 jersey listed incorrectly as Nik Hong; they’re fixing that on the website but rest assured, it is Perbix’s jersey fans are bidding on.
Kiffin, Perbix, Wurst and the rest of the Norsemen are on the road this weekend taking on the Bismarck Bobcats with the games taking place Friday and Saturday, February 10th and 11th. The puck drops at 7:15 pm both nights. Both games can also be viewed online at www.hockeytv.com.
The Norsemen are next at home Friday and Saturday, February 17th and 18th vs. the Minot Minotauros. Friday the 17th will be Charlie Boike Night; 50% of the money from tickets sold will go towards a scholarship in memory of Charlie Boike. Also on Friday the 17th the first 100 fans will receive a free Norsemen winter beanie provided by Franklin Graphics & Outdoor Advertising. You can get your tickets for that and all games at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.