The NA3HL held their Top Prospects Tournament on April 18th-19th in St. Peters, Missouri. The Top Prospects are taken from each team in the league that is not featured in the competition for the Fraser Cup. Each player is nominated by their respective head coach for the tournament and is put on one of the 4 teams made up of 22 men each. For this season’s Top Prospects Tournament, the New Ulm Steel was represented by forwards Joey Gimberlin and Zach Maillette and defenseman Nate Looft, they were on Team Krampade. Here is what they all had to say about their experience.
For Zach Maillette, being nominated for Top Prospects was a surprise. “When I found out I was going to Top Prospects I was definitely not expecting it, so when I got the news I was pretty happy. My experience in the tournament was very fun, I have never been able to play in any sort of tournament like that so it was cool getting to travel and have the opportunity to do that. While there I learner that the league, our owners, and Coach Stepan are really trying to provide us with the opportunities for advancements and development as players. Events like this really show that the NA3HL is committed to helping us succeed.
The pace felt very similar to that of the regular season, but the games themselves were a little less physical and a bit more skilled. It was a very cool experience to play with my opponents from this past season. If not for this tournament, I would have never been able to meet those players and get to know them more off the ice. I was happy that I was able to finish on a great feed and that I could help be a part of the win our team had for the first game. It was a great feeling overall.”
Nate Looft had a similar take on being nominated for the Top Prospects Tournament. “I was really excited to hear that I was going to Top Prospects so I could get the exposure, I also was really grateful because not many kids get the opportunity to be there. The experience was good, I was treated really well down there and it was a lot of fun on and off the ice. The pace was good down there. We were told to go out and play our game and do what we do best. It was fun to see how good players from other divisions are. I got to know some of our opponents from the season a little more, they are great people and fun to be around.
My two biggest takeaways from the tournament would be to work hard because you never know who is watching and to have fun while you are playing because it makes your experience way better.”
This was the last season for Joey Gimberlin for Junior Hockey. This is what he had to say about going to Top Prospects. “I was thankful for the opportunity to get some different exposure than normal. It was great to play with and be on a team with some of the other guys that we have played against in our division. It was weird at first playing with them but it was definitely fun to get to know them on and off the ice. The play was pretty similar to the regular season but there was a little more skill and less grit.
Getting to play with guys from other teams was great, there was so much talent and I got to hear different perspectives about the game. It was good to be back on the ice and feel that feeling again.”