Yager, Unger ready to shine at Top Prospects Game
Brayden Yager and Jackson Unger will have the opportunity to show NHL teams what they can do this week.
The two Moose Jaw Warriors have touched down in Vancouver, B.C. where they will be taking part in the 2023 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely pretty cool,” Yager said. “There’s a lot of talent there, so I’m really looking forward to it and going to try and have some fun.”
Unger said the game has been on his mind since he received the invite.
“I’ve been pretty anxious and excited to get this opportunity to play in this game,” he said. “I’ve spent the last week really focusing and preparing.”
Yager heads into the Top Prospects Game as the fifth ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting in the midterm rankings, while Unger is ranked 17th among North American goaltenders.
This is the second straight year that the Warriors will have two players representing the team at the draft showcase after Jagger Firkus and Denton Mateychuk put together a strong performance in the 2022 edition.
Yager said he’s received some good tips about what to expect.
“They said it’s super fun,” he said. “With the game, people are there to have fun, but show off your skill and show why you’re there.”
Through 46 games this season, Yager sits second on the team with 54 points, including a career-high 34 assists. He has also added 20 goals.
Heading into the Top Prospects Game, Yager said he wants to stay true to what he does best.
“I’m at my best when I’m smiling during the game and stuff like that, so just stay focused but also be loose and make sure I’m having fun,” he said.
“Just stick to what I do best, use my skating, shoot the puck lots, try to utilize my shot to my advantage and obviously try to use my hockey IQ as well, showcase not just my offensive ability, but the 200-foot game as well.”
Unger has a 5-9-0-0 record in 16 appearances this season with a 4.15 goals against average and a 0.867 save percentage.
Going into the game, Unger said focus will be the biggest key for him.
“Only playing half a game, I’ve got only 30 minutes to worry about, but I’m just focusing on mentally preparing and getting comfortable,” he said.
“You’ll probably only see 15 shots, maybe, but when it comes down to those 15 shots, it matters each individually.”
Unger said he just wants to soak in the whole experience.
“[Jagger] said there’s a lot of media and camera action on you, so that’s going to be pretty special to see and just the game in general, the environment, all those top players, you’re going to see all of them in the NHL eventually, so it will be special,” he said.
Yager and Unger have shared a lot of experiences during their young hockey careers, playing for Team Canada at the under-17 and under-18 tournaments.
Yager said it’s nice to have Unger along with him for this experience again.
“It’s going to be fun to travel with him and go through the whole experience,” he said.
Yager and Unger will be suiting up for Team White.
The 2023 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game goes on Wednesday at 9 p.m. CST from the Langley Events Centre.