ATTLEBORO, Mass. - Topeka Pilots goaltender Emil Gransoe was perfect over a two-game stretch at the NAHL Top Prospects tournament, and along with teammate Cole Thiessen, made their head coach watching from the stands pretty proud.
Gransoe was outstanding in the finale on Tuesday at the New England Sports Village, coming up with several brilliant and timely saves as Team South defeated the Midwest squad 2-1 in overtime. The win allowed the South to finish with a perfect 2-0 record - not to mention impress the multitude of NCAA and NHL scouts in attendance.
"Emil was simply on top of his game," said Topeka head coach Simon Watson. "He was the difference in this last game. And Cole (Thiessen) was sharp as well. He lived up to his puck-moving defenseman reputation."
Gransoe split both games with teammate Leo Chuard from Shreveport. The duo combined for a 4-0 shutout in Monday's opener against the Selects Red club. The Pilots netminder started the game and finished by stopping 12 of 12 shots, while Chuard turned aside 13 of 13.
But in Tuesday's contest against a stronger Midwest team, Chuard played the first half and left the game trailing 1-0. The South squad tied the game halfway through the third, and Gransoe kept his team in the game with some tough stops - including a brilliant glove save in the final seconds of regulation. He was money again in overtime with a handful of dazzling stops before Lone Star's Frank Trazzera won it 2:52 into overtime. Gransoe finished by stopping 19 of 19 shots.
"I felt very relaxed, very focused," said Gransoe. "This is such a great event - with all the scouts watching us. I'm glad Cole and I had the opportunity to come here and show what we have. It's a good feeling."
Thiessen - one of Topeka's top defensemen with 25 points thus far on the season - was able to display his mobility and decision-making over the two-day event.
"Cole had a good showing," said Watson. "He simply made good puck decisions and got the offense started nicely when he was on the ice. He looked very good. I am very proud of what Emil and Cole did here, and how they represented our franchise."
The Pilots, after a tough travel schedule over the past month, have a bye weekend coming up but return to action with four straight games at the Kansas ExpoCentre. Topeka will host league-leading Amarillo March 1 & 2, and follow that up with a pair of games March 8-9 versus Corpus Christi.