Iverson wins MVP at All-American Top Prospects Game
PITTSBURGH, PA -- Keegan Iverson's two points earned him Player of the Game honors in Team Mark Johnson's 5-2 win over Team Joe Mullen in the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects Game at Consol Energy Center on Thursday night.
Iverson, who plays for the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks, broke a 1-1 tie 6:57 into the third period. Dylan Larkin, who like Iverson finished with a goal and an assist, whipped the puck on the net from the blue line, forcing Alex Nedeljkovic to make a pad save. Iverson grabbed the rebound and slid the puck into the back of the net.
"It's a great experience," Iverson said. "Coming in, I was a little nervous. I didn't know what to expect, but it's a great experience to be here and get Player of the Game."
The 16-year-old forward from St. Louis Park, MN showcased impressive chemistry with Larkin throughout the game and set up Larkin's goal early in the second period. Iverson forced Josh Jacobs into a turnover by pressuring him between the faceoff circles in Team Mullen's zone. He won possession of the puck and tapped a perfect pass onto Larkin's stick in front of the net for the opening goal.
Mark Johnson, coach of Team Johnson and the University of Wisconsin women's ice hockey team, said he was surprised with Iverson and Larkin's ability to find chemistry throughout the game, an asset he thought his entire roster shared.
"They played really well as a group," Johnson said. "It's fun as a scouting standpoint or even a coaching standpoint to watch kids when they're not used to playing with different players or different groups. All of a sudden something happens out there and [they gain] chemistry. It's nice to see."
Johnson praised Iverson's play, but noted that there were several players on his team that were worthy of Player of the Game consideration.
"They're only going to pick one and certainly he has a memory now," Johnson said. "He walks away with a trophy and it's something he'll have for the rest of his life as he looks back on his young career. It's a pretty good opportunity and a special night for him.
"But I think they could have probably played a couple of other guys too who played well for us."
Joe Mullen, coach of Team Mullen and an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers, agreed with Iverson being named Player of the Game, but noted Larkin also had also had a case.
"He's a good solid player," Mullen said. "I thought that line played really well. I thought Larkin played really well and it was just a really solid line out there. They really produced for him."
Iverson's day didn't start as brightly as it ended. His skate went out from under him at Team Johnson's morning skate, sending him hard into the boards. Iverson said the fall left his confidence a bit shaken entering the game, but he was able to perform up to his own expectations.
"My nerves set in at morning skate when I took a nasty fall. I was wondering how the game was going to go," Iverson said. "But I think I did pretty well. I was really happy with the way I played and it was a great performance.
"I'm really proud of myself."
Author: Wes Crosby | NHL.com Correspondent