DUBUQUE, IA—The City of Dubuque and the Dubuque Fighting Saints organization are stepping into the national spotlight. The United States Hockey League and the Fighting Saints announced today at a press conference that Dubuque has been awarded the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, scheduled for Tuesday, January 13 at the Mystique Community Ice Center. The event will draw fans and NHL executives to the City of Dubuque to watch the USHL's best young prospects compete.
Representatives from the Fighting Saints, USHL, City of Dubuque, and Mystique Community Ice Center were on hand for the press conference. Newly appointed USHL Commissioner Bob Fallen made the announcement, marking the return of the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game after a one-year hiatus.
The announcement of the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game follows a record-setting year for the USHL as a total of 35 players that played in the League during the 2013-14 season were chosen during the 2014 NHL Draft, and a total of 112 USHL alumni appeared in the NHL during the 2013-14 season. Both numbers represent all-time highs for the USHL.
"The results from the recent NHL Draft validate the skill level of our league and speak volumes about the USHL's position on the developmental landscape," said USHL President and Commissioner Bob Fallen. "We invite fans from across the region to join us in Dubuque this coming January for what will surely be a talent-rich showcase of junior hockey in America."
The event will feature the top prospects currently playing in the USHL that are eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The game will feature 40 players selected for the event through a process that includes input from the USHL's General Managers, NHL Central Scouting, and NHL team scouts and decision makers. The players selected will be divided into two teams following the selection of the players.
The 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will not only give players a chance to showcase their skills, but it also showcases the City of Dubuque and the Fighting Saints organization and business model to fans, players, as well as USHL and NHL team personnel from across North America.
"We are extremely proud to host this signature event and we look forward to showcasing the City of Dubuque, our outstanding facility and our passionate fan base," said Dan Lehv, Fighting Saints President. The game, and surrounding events, will add another chapter to the rich hockey history of the Key City.
"We take on the challenge of hosting a game of this magnitude knowing it's something our community will embrace. Over our first four seasons, we've been fortunate to capture two Clark Cup championships, medal in international competition, support numerous area charities and non-profits, and increase our average attendance each year. In many ways, this is the culmination of all that we've accomplished together with our great fans and partners."
Dubuque will be only the second city to host this marquee event. The Muskegon Lumberjacks and the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan hosted the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in 2012 and 2013.
Players and league executives will arrive to Dubuque a day prior to the game for a welcome reception Monday, January 12. The event will also feature a Signature Banquet at the Grand River Center on Tuesday. The banquet will host the game's players, league executives, members of the business community, and fans. The banquet will also boast a to-be-announced keynote speaker. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. for the Prospects Game and fans are encouraged to arrive early for a Pre-Game Skills Competition prior to the game itself. Festivities are scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m.
Dubuque Fighting Saints Full Season Ticket Holders will have a ticket to the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game included in their season ticket package.
Mini-Plan Ticket Holders have the option of selecting the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game as part of their package for the 2014-2015 season. Group rates to the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game are also available. Groups of 15 or more can reserve their seats beginning tomorrow at 9 a.m.
Tickets for the general public go on sale for the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Tuesday, November 18 at 9 a.m. Tickets will start at just $10, and pricing will remain the same as during a regular Fighting Saints game.
Season Ticket Holders will also have the option of purchasing additional tickets for family and friends in a special Season Ticket Presale beginning on Monday, November 17 at 9 a.m.
Despite a brief history, the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game has enjoyed great success and has had several ties to Dubuque. A total of 30 players that have been selected to compete in the previous two USHL/NHL Top Prospects Games have gone on to be chosen in the NHL Draft, including a quartet of players from the 2015 host Dubuque Fighting Saints. Defenseman Michael Downing (Florida Panthers) and forward Peter Quenneville (Columbus Blue Jackets) participated in the 2013 event, while current NHL player Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres) and Boston College defenseman Mike Matheson (Florida Panthers) were selected for the 2012 event, but were unable to compete due to injury. Both Girgensons and Matheson would be selected in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft.