67’s Pinelli enjoys “once-in-a-lifetime” CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game experience

Bob Frid

You only get the chance to be a top prospect for the NHL Draft once.

Ranked 49th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings, Ottawa 67’s forward Luca Pinelli was among 40 players selected for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. After a game in Owen Sound, Pinelli headed for Vancouver, where he would take part in a myriad events, including fitness testing, media availabilities, and of course, the game.

A one-stop-shop for scouts means a busy couple of days for draft-hopeful players, but the Stoney Creek native was all in, and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the event.

“It was a really fun experience, obviously, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Pinelli said. “I enjoyed every moment of it. It was really nice to get invited to play against all of the high-end prospects in [the CHL].”

On testing day, Pinelli found himself fourth on the “weave agility with puck” leaderboards, finishing in just 10.911 seconds, but where he separated himself was in the game. With just under seven minutes to go in the third, Pinelli fired home what would become the game-winning goal, in Team White’s 4-2 win over Team Red.

He was effective long before his goal, ending the game with five shots on goal, and confidence was high for the 67’s second-round draft pick in 2021.

“I had a lot of chances, so I felt like a goal was coming,” Pinelli said. “When it happened, it felt really good.”

Back in Ottawa, many of Pinelli’s teammates stayed up for the 10 p.m. puck drop to support their fellow Barber Pole. Head Coach Dave Cameron says that the feedback he received was very positive.

“I heard lots of good things about [his performance] from other people who saw it,” Cameron said. “He was real good, but that’s not surprising.”

The event also offered Pinelli a chance to meet some of the other young talent in the CHL, and in some cases, catch up with players that he knows either through OHL competition, or through the Capital City Challenge.

“I knew a couple of the guys from playing with them in previous tournaments, but I made some friendships with guys I didn’t know too well,” Pinelli said. “They were all really nice guys.”

After the game was over, Pinelli’s attention quickly changed, waking up early in the morning to start a day full of travel, returning to the 67’s to help them collect four out of six possible six points last weekend, chipping in with two goals in the three games.

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