Cherry and Orr to coach 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game; Individual tickets on sale now

The Canadian Hockey League in association with BMO Financial Group, today announced that Canadian hockey icons Don Cherry and Bobby Orr will serve as coaches in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, ON.

The 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game taking place on Thursday January 22, 2015, will be hosted by the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.  This season’s event marks the 20th annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players featuring talent from the OHL, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League competing before hundreds of NHL scouts in attendance.

“When this event began in 1996 it was the support of Don Cherry and Bobby Orr that helped build this showcase of top draft eligible CHL players into a prestigious annual event,” said CHL President David Branch. “The CHL is honoured that Don and Bobby will participate behind the bench in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in what will truly be a special experience for the 40 players competing on the ice, and for hockey fans in St. Catharines and across the CHL.”

This season will mark the 12th meeting in the historic coaching rivalry between Cherry and Orr that began with a 9-3 Team Cherry victory at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1996.  Team Cherry also emerged with a 4-2 victory over Team Orr in Windsor, ON, in 2010 in their last head-to-head matchup, however Orr holds a 7-4 all-time winning record against Cherry in their previous 11 games.  Cherry has participated in this event on three other occasions without Orr including 2005 in Vancouver, BC, when he was victorious over coaching opponent John Davidson, followed by 2011 in Toronto falling to Team Orr led by Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark, and in 2013 in Halifax, NS, in a defeat against Team Orr led by Mike McPhee.  Since 2006, the winning team has been presented with the Don Cherry and Bobby Orr CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Trophy engraved with the names of every player to ever participate in this prestigious event.

“Bobby Orr and Don Cherry are icons, and on behalf of BMO, we’re excited to be teaming up with them this season,” said Curtis Scragg, Senior Vice President for Southwestern Ontario, BMO Bank of Montreal.  “Bringing back two legends in the sport gives added bench strength to build on the foundation for the future of hockey in Canada through the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects program.”

Cherry, a native of Kingston, ON, has been the star of Hockey Night in Canada’s Coach’s Corner for more than 25 years.  He coached in the NHL with the Boston Bruins and Colorado Rockies from 1974 to 1980 coaching Orr in his first season behind the Bruins bench and part of the 1975-76 season where he won the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s Coach of the Year.  In 480 games as a NHL coach he has a won-lost-tied record of 250-153-77.  Cherry played his major junior hockey with the Windsor Spitfires in 1951-52 before competing as a member of the Barrie Flyers’ 1953 Memorial Cup winning team.

Orr, a native of Parry Sound, ON, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 after playing 12 seasons in the NHL with the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks recording 915 points on 270 goals and 645 assists.  A winner of two Stanley Cup Championships with the Bruins, Orr also captured two NHL scoring titles and was selected winner of the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player three times and won a record eight-straight James Norris Trophy awards presented annually to the NHL’s top defenceman.  In 1999 Orr was selected to the MasterCard All-time CHL team and in 2008 had his number 2 jersey retired by the Oshawa Generals where he played from 1962-66.

“We are extremely excited to be bringing the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects game to St. Catharines and the Niagara Region,” said IceDogs Governor Bill Burke. “This is a rare opportunity and we are excited to offer our fans a chance to come check out 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible players at our brand new facility.”

Tickets are now on sale for $35 each and can be purchased in person at the IceDogs’ business offices at One IceDogs Way and at the Pen Centre and Seaway Mall Customer Service Desks.  Tickets can also be purchased online at www.niagaraicedogs.net and  www.bmotopprospects.ca.

Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 12 players that were selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Chris Phillips, Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Rick Nash, Marc-Andre Fleury, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nathan MacKinnon, and most recently Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts selected first overall by the Florida Panthers.  Ekblad, who captained Team Orr last season, was the first of 17 CHL players who competed in the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game to be selected in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft with Team Cherry captain Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice selected second overall by the Buffalo Sabres.

The 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be broadcast nationally by Sportsnet and TVA Sports.  Associate partners for the event include SUBWAY, Cooper Tires, and autoTRADER.ca.

For more information about the event please visit www.bmotopprospects.ca.

Kevin Legros
Kevin Legros is the Executive Editor of LocalSportsReport.com and the Managing Editor of the OHL Blog. He follows all local sports in the Niagara Region including the Niagara IceDogs, where he has been a season ticket holder since the first season. Kevin was involved in the process of planning for the IceDogs new home arena, the Meridian Centre, which included sitting as a member of the Mayor's Task Force Committee, the St. Catharines Entertainment and Sports Complex Advocacy Committee and the Meridian Centre Fundraising Task Force Committee.