Junior Hockey: 3 WarHawks in top prospect tournament
Three Willmar WarHawks are in Plymouth, Michigan along with a number of other junior hockey players for the North American Tier III Hockey League's (NA3HL) top prospect tournament taking place Monday and Tuesday.
Goaltender Alex Cathcart and defenseman Wyatt Toll were each named to Selects teams, also nicknamed "the young guns" as the players chosen must have a birth date in 1998 or later. Cathcart is one of two goalies for the Select Black team while Toll was selected as an injury replacement for Granite City's Jordan Olson who is out with a broken collarbone.
Forward Danny Nugent is also participating in the tournament as part of the White team made up of players from the Frontier and West Divisions.
Cathcart has split time between the WarHawks and North American Hockey League's Amarillo Bulls but while in Willmar he has been a steady presence between the pipes. In 16 games played he holds a .905 save percentage with a 3.45 goals allowed average that has creeped up in recent weeks.
"For a kid like Cathcart it's a chance for him to impress," said Willmar head coach Chris Blaisuis. "He's been part of our leadership group and a great role model. He's deserving on merit and talent. I wish we could have had Weissenborn join him. They both deserve to be there."
Weissenborn has split time with Cathcart in net and has posted an 8-10-1 record with a .928 save percentage and a 3.14 goals allowed average.
Despite Weissenborn's omission, Cathcart said working together has improved both of their games.
"It pushes both of us to hone our craft," Cathcart said. "It's more like helping than competing. We've always had a good relationship and we try to be the backbone for the team."
Toll has been one of the top blueliners for the WarHawks. He's tied for second among team defenseman with 37 games played and is second with 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists). He's also second on the team in plus-minus with a plus-20, just behind Alec Skar who leads the way at plus-23.
Nugent, the lone forward from the WarHawks to be selected, has battled through injuries this season while producing at a more defensive role than he was expecting to play. The Lakewood, Ohio native has four goals and nine assists on the season.
"Danny has embraced a secondary role this season and that has been big for our team," Blaisuis said. "He has a lot of offensive skill but he's really stepped up defensively and shown an ability to adapt."
Nugent spent time with Philadelphia and Vermont in the Eastern Hockey League prior to joining the WarHawks at the start of this season. His White team took on Cathcart's Select Red team in the third game of the tournament on Monday. Prior to the game he said he was "hoping to light him up and chirp him a bit" and despite scoring a goal in the opening minutes he was held scoreless in the final 25:30, Cathcart's time in net.
Each team played two games on Monday and will play one on Tuesday.