Brett Ritchie bolstered his case for inclusion on Canada's world junior team with a physically-dominating performance on Tuesday night in the Red-White intra-squad game.
These types of scrimmages can be difficult for players, who don't want to risk hurting their potential teammates and, as result, may let up a bit. However, Ritchie, a towering Dallas Stars prospect, didn't seem bothered by the proposition. His huge hit on defenceman Mathew Dumba in the second period elicited a gasp from the fans in attendance.
“I just sort of caught him,” said Ritchie, who stands 6-foot-4, weighing in at 218 pounds. “I don't think he expected me to finish my check there. He didn't really see me coming. I don't know what the deal was, but I just tried to lay into him."
"That was probably the main thing I wanted to focus on tonight, you got to finish all your checks."
Ritchie, who is tied for the OHL lead in goals with 27 in 32 games with the Niagara IceDogs, also showcased his offensive talents. He assisted on Team White's only goal and was also the only one of five shooters to beat Jordan Binnington in the shootout.
Ritchie's blend of size and skill earned high marks from the man who will name Canada's final roster on Thursday night.
“He was great,” said head coach Steve Spott. “Of all the players up front, he's probably the guy that really stood out in a lot of different ways. I thought he was physical on the puck, got pucks to the net. Brett played a real strong game. He used his size to his advantage, which was great.”
LIPON: NO REGRETS ABOUT RUN-IN WITH STROME
Ritchie wasn't the only player showing some grit on Tuesday. JC Lipon, passed over in the last NHL draft, but lighting it up with the Kamloops Blazers this season, got into a shoving match with Ryan Strome in the second period. In a regular game that wouldn't be of note, but in an intra-squad affair it stood out.
“He made me look [a bit silly with] a little outside, inside [move] so I gave him a little tap," said Lipon. "It's part of the game.”
Lipon wasn't going to back down simply because Strome, the CHL's leading scorer with 62 points in 32 games with Niagara this season, is one of six returning players at the camp and a lock to make the team again.
“I can't really take anyone lightly,” said Lipon, one of only five undrafted players at the camp. “There's a level of respect, but, I'm going to play hard on everyone. It was just a little shoving match. It was nothing. We'll probably go say, ‘Hi,' to each other at dinner after this."
“When you're out there, there's no friends, you're trying to show your stuff.”
PATERSON WISHES HE DID HIS HOMEWORK
Saginaw Spirit goalie Jake Paterson stopped all 10 shots he faced in regulation and added four saves in the shootout, but it was the one goal he allowed, to Jonathan Huberdeau in the shootout, that was the most memorable play he was involved in.
“No, I haven't,” the Red Wings prospect said when asked if he had ever seen anything like Huberdeau's deke before. “I probably should've looked up some video on what he was going to pull. It was a nice move and he got me so hopefully I'll get him next time.”
But Paterson wasn't going to beat himself up over the play. After all, there's a reason why Huberdeau has scored 104 goals in 195 games with Saint John in the QMJHL and was picked third overall by the Florida Panthers at the 2011 NHL draft.
“He's got quick hands and he can pretty much do whatever he wants with the puck," said Paterson. "I was aware of that, but he was able to sneak it by me there.”