By Warren Kozireski —
The Buffalo Jr. Sabres and Long Island Gulls combined to have seven of their players selected as the USHL held Phases 1 &2 of the annual draft May 2 & 3.
The Green Bay Gamblers and Dubuque Fighting Saints relied on state talent with each selecting three from New York.
Green Bay took Ellicottville’s Niles Benson in the fourth round of Phase 1. Benson is a 6’0, 176 lb. center who played last season with the Jr. Sabres where he scored 21 points in 15 games and added four more points in five playoff contests.
Commack native Brendan DeFeo was the Gamblers seventh round selection in Phase 1. A 5’7”, 140 lb. forward, he had seven points in a combined 16 Long Island Gulls games with their 15U and 16U teams.
In Phase 2, Green Bay made Geneva’s Brady Zugec their 15th round pick. The Jr. Sabres product stands 6’2”, 192 lb. and the forward scored a combined 36 goals with 55 assists in 81 games.
Dubuque took Ithaca’s Cooper Dennis in the second round of Phase 1. Playing for the Bishop Kearney Selects, the 5’5”, 1412 lb. forward tallied 124 points in 83 games. In the eighth round, the Fighting Saints selected Mid-Fairfield Rangers and New York City native Tommy Bleyl. A 5’8”, 141 lb. Schenectady-born defenseman, Bleyl put up 45 points in 16 high school games at Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa. And with their fifth-round pick in Phase 2, Dubuque chose Lake Placid native Ritter Coombs from Northwood Prep. The 6’1”, 174 lb. forward scored 31 goals with 49 points in 70 games this past season.
Buffalo native and Jr. Sabres center Haeden Ellis was the first from New York State taken in the draft seventh overall in the first round by Cedar Rapids. Ellis stands 5’7” and 134 lb. but just turned 16 in March. He played with Team USA’s Team Royal this past year with three goals in four games.
Waterloo used their second-round pick on Brooklyn’s Jess Orlowsky of the Long Island Gulls where the 6’2”, 181 lb. forward scored ten points in 14 games.
Perennial USHL power Chicago selected Roslyn native Ethan Wyttenbach and Skaneateles’s Henry Major with their two fifth round selections. Wyttenbach is a 5’8”, 170 lb. left wing from the Long Island Gulls where he scored a combined 13 points in 15 games with the 15U and 16U squads. Major is 5’7”, 140 lb. and the forward was an offensive force with both the Rochester Coalition and Skaneateles High totaling 67 goals and 98 assists in 65 games.
William Schneid from Syracuse was taken in the seventh round of Phase 1 by Des Moines. The 5’11”, 161 lb. right wing had 95 points in 40 games with the Rochester Coalition 15U team.
Skaneateles’ John Henry is a 6’0”, 185 lb. right defenseman with Cranbrook in the BCHL where he tallied five goals and 17 points in 44 games. Some websites list the 19-year-old as committed to Yale University as early as this fall.
Hudson Miller of Syosset was taken by Sioux Falls in the ninth round of Phase 2. With Avon Old Farms Prep and Yale Jr. Bulldogs 6’2”, 174 lb. defenseman had a combined 28 points in 63 contests.
Muskegon got into the New York State of mind with their ninth round Phase 2 selection—Stephen Peck from New York City. The 6’2”, 174 lb. goaltender played 38 games combined with Avon Old Farms and the Yale Jr. Bulldogs after four development years with the North Jersey Avalanche.
Victor’s Nicholas Peluso was a teammate of Henry’s in Cranbrook. The 5’10”, 158 lb. winger netted 15 goals and 41 points over 54 games. He is committed to the University of Maine.
Joseph Mense, a 6’0”, 215 lb. right defenseman from Port Jefferson, was a 15th round Phase 2 pick by Sioux City. He played 31 games with the Boston Jr. Bruins last season with six points.
Tri-City added a second NY stater in Tyler Procious from Pittsford in the 16h round. The soon-to-be 20-year-old 5’10”, 174 lb. defenseman captained Waterloo in his second year with the team and had seven points in 17 games.
The final player from New York selected was Rye native Lachlan Bonner, a 5’11”, 170 lb. forward with the North Jersey Avalanche 15U last season where he had a pair of assists in four games. He was taken by Youngstown in the 18th round.