By Larry Fisher
The Daily Courier
Colton Sissons was confused at first.
He received a text from his dad this past Thursday that read ‘congrats captain.’ Sissons’ first reaction was “well, this is three months late,” but upon firing up his computer, the Kelowna Rockets’ captain discovered he’d be wearing another ‘C’ this week.
The 18-year-old forward from North Vancouver will captain Team Orr during the CHL Top Prospects Game at Kelowna’s Prospera Place. The two-day event starts with a skills competition and 3-on-3 challenge on Tuesday night,
followed by the 17th annual showcase on Wednesday.
“That’s how I found out, and then I saw it posted on our website,” Sissons said. “I was obviously surprised. I never really thought of it to be honest. It’s coming up pretty quick and it’s definitely on my mind. I was incredibly excited to get the ‘C’, not many people get that opportunity. It’s pretty cool to say the least and it’s going to be a really fun couple of days.”
Sissons’ counterpart is also used to wearing the ‘C’ in WHL action, with Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray named captain of Team Cherry.
“When I get the chance, I hope I can lead my team to a big win against Murray,” said Sissons, the top-rated WHL forward by NHL Central Scouting, 14th overall among North American skaters.
If successful, Sissons would also get the upper hand on Rockets head coach Ryan Huska, who will be assisting Mark Recchi behind the bench of Team Cherry. Huska would likely accept that defeat, especially if Sissons plays a starring role.
“They chose him (as captain) amongst his peers, the guys who are considered the top eligible draft picks,” Huska said. “It’s a tremendous honour and he should be very proud of himself for that.”
Team Orr, to be coached by Pat Quinn and Don Hay (Vancouver Giants), will feature Mikhail Grigorenko (QMJHL, Quebec Remparts) and Tanner Pearson (OHL, Barrie Colts) as alternate captains. Grigorenko is ranked second
among North American skaters, behind only fellow Russian forward Nail Yakupov (OHL, Sarnia Sting), who returned over the weekend from a knee injury but is still slated to miss the Top Prospects Game. Pearson, who won bronze with Murray on Team Canada at the world juniors, is among the CHL’s top scorers with 73 points through 40 games.
Murray, the top-rated defenceman for this year’s NHL draft, will have Brendan Gaunce (OHL, Belleville Bulls) and Martin Frk (QMJHL, Halifax Mooseheads) serving as alternate captains.
Sissons leads the Rockets with 26 goals, including 13 power-play markers, and is third in team scoring with 38 points in 51 games following Sunday’s 4-3 win over Seattle in Kent, Wash.
On the down side, the injury bug continues to plague the event, claiming four more victims this week and bringing the total to eight of the top-40 players not participating.
On Thursday, goaltender Chris Driedger (WHL, Calgary Hitmen) was added to the Team Orr roster, replacing Malcolm Subban (OHL, Belleville Bulls), the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban.
Then, on Sunday, defencemen Cody Ceci (OHL, Ottawa 67s) and Olli Maatta (OHL, London Knights), along with forward Charles Hudon (QMJHL, Chicoutimi Sagueneens), were forced to withdraw.
Their replacements are defencemen Dalton Thrower (WHL, Saskatoon Blades) and Dillon Fournier (QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies), plus forward Dane Fox (OHL, Erie Otters).
Tickets are still available — $10 for the skills competition, $40 for the game.