Lazar is NHL Central Scouting's 26th-ranked North American skater (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)HALIFAX — One thing about young hockey players, the better friends they are, they more apt they are to make a competition out of anything.
The Edmonton Oil Kings' Curtis Lazar and Tristan Jarry seem like a classic case of opposing tintypes making for a tight pair of teammates. Lazar, now that he's in his second WHL season and wears an alternate captain's A in Edmonton, always seems to have a smile sprouting as he speaks, while Jarry fits the mold of being the buttoned-down goalie. But the two 17-year-olds, who played spring hockey together in British Columbia before joining Edmonton, have a close bond. So when they were placed on opposite teams for Wednesday's CHL Top Prospects Game, it was let the one-upsmanship begin.
"I've been trash-talking with him for quite a while now," Lazar, the 6-foot, 198-pound right wing who's on Team Orr, said prior to Wednesdays game. "I'm working on trying to get that goal out of him. If he's not going to let me, I'm not afraid to go through the crease and put one over his shoulder."
The Top Prospects Games lineups are usually made with the idea of trying to create two evenly matched teams. Players from the same junior team are often kept together. Team Cherry has the three Halifax Mooseheads, Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon and goalie Zachary Fucale. Team Orr has the three Portland Winterhawks (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Nicolas Petan and defenceman Seth Jones), the three London Knights (Max Domi, Bo Horvat and defenceman Nikita Zadorov) and the three Quebec Remparts (Anthony Duclair, Adam Erne and Nick Sorensen, all forwards).
The Rimouski Océanic quartet was halved. Team Cherry centre centre Frédérik Gauthier could be shooting on his own goalie, Team Orr's Philippe Desrosiers. ( Océanic defenceman Jan Kostalek is with Team Orr, while fellow D-man D-man Samuel Morin is with the Cherrys.)
However, Desrosiers came in as an injury replacement. Lazar and Jarry are the only forward and goalie who were pitted against each other when the rosters were originally named.
Jarry has a 1.68 GAA and .934 save percentage as Edmonton's backup (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)"This is a big thing for us," says Jarry, whose 1.68 goals-against average is tops in the WHL, although he is Edmonton's understudy behind Calgary Flames goaltending prospect Laurent Brossoit. "I can't let him score and he wants to score on me. It'll be a friendly competition. We got it started about a week ago."
Jarry grew up in Delta, B.C., and Lazar hails from Vernon. They got acquainted through spring hockey. Not only have they carried it on through playing for the Oil Kings, but their friendship was also aided by getting to play together in both the 2011 Canada Winter Games and the 2012 World Under-17 Challenge.
"It's always a joy to face off against each other," Lazar says. "Tristan's a very good goalie. Anything I can do to get him off his game is going to be a benefit for Team Orr."
There will be bragging rights on the line, but it's just about being the best on one particular day. They'll be thick as thieves regardless of whether Jarry robs Lazar on national television.
"Days off, we're always doing something together," Jarry says. "Go to the water park, go to the mall, hang out, just do anything."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.