Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey

Red Wings top Stars to win NHL Prospect Tournament championship


By @StefanKubus – 

For just the second time ever, the Detroit Red Wings captured the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup as NHL Prospect Tournament champions.

The Red Wings had won the Traverse City-based tournament just once in 2013, despite appearing in the championship game five times in the last seven years.

Joe Veleno (30th overall, 2018) had entered Tuesday’s championship game with a tournament-leading five goals, and his two late third-period tallies helped lift the Wings to a 6-5 victory over the Dallas Stars. Givani Smith (46th overall, 2016) also potted a pair of goals for the Wings, the second of which proved to be the game-winning marker. Meanwhile, Ohio State product and free-agent invite Sean Romeo picked up the win in goal.

“It’s what the main goal was coming into this tournament, to leave a mark for the organization and I think all the fans come here and support us, so it was nice we won it for them, for the organization, so it felt really good,” Veleno told the Red Wings’ Carley Johnston following the win.

On his own game, Veleno said “everything was going well” for him this tournament.

“I think just putting pucks on net, being there for rebounds and working hard for those goals, I did a good job on that and I have to give credit to the guys I played with and the power play. Everything was going well, so just lucky enough to be in a good spot at the right time and capitalize.”

A March Grand Rapids signee, Gregor Macleod opened the scoring for the Wings in the first period, a power-play marker as he cashed in a loose puck at the side of the Dallas goal.

The Stars responded just 12 seconds into the middle frame, as Joel Kiviranta found the back of the net for Dallas. Detroit netminder and Ohio State product Sean Romeo turned aside a penalty shot from the Stars’ Nick Caamano shortly after to keep things even at that point.

Smith gave the Wings a brief 2-1 lead with 4:41 to play in the second period before the Stars scored two late goals, one from Flint Firebirds standout Ty Dellandrea, who had a two-point game the day before, and the other from Emil Djuse. Djuse’s goal came with just 36 seconds left in the period, as he beat a screened Romeo with both teams playing 4 on 4.

That left Detroit down 3-2 heading into the third period.

Early in the third period, Riley Damiani was left alone in front and fired a quick shot past Romeo to give Dallas an important insurance goal. Ryan Kuffner got the Wings to within one with 11:19 to play, as he broke in down the left side, around the net and banked the puck off a Dallas defender and past netminder Jake Oettinger.

Following a good effort from Taro Hirose to keep the puck in the Stars zone, Veleno then potted a power-play goal at the side of the Stars’ goal to tie things up on what was the Wings’ ninth man-advantage tally of the tournament. Veleno scored again shortly after off a feed from Hirose to give the Wings a 5-4 lead, his seventh goal of the tournament.

With 2:32 to play, Veleno fed Smith for a breakaway, and as he drew a penalty on the break and scored anyway as he crashed into the goal for his second of the game and a huge insurance goal for Detroit. Especially huge considering Dallas scored with 47 seconds left on the clock.

“It’s unreal, I mean I think once again we came back from two goals in this game and showed a lot of character, didn’t give up, so I mean with that effort I think we deserve to celebrate and be happy,” Veleno said.