Sioux Falls, SD—The Sioux Falls Stampede prepared for the future during Phase 1 of the USHL Draft Monday night, selecting eight players. All players selected in the draft have 1998 birthdates and will be placed on the Herd’s affiliate list. The Stampede finished the draft adding five forwards and three defensemen to their roster. All eight players will be invited to the Stampede’s tryout camp in early June.
With their first pick (13th overall), the Stampede selected forward Kieffer Bellows from Edina High School. Bellows (6/10/98) is a centerman who posted 34 points (13g, 21a) in 31 games while leading the Hornets to the Minnesota State High School AA championship. He was captain of the Hornets and finished fourth on the team in scoring during the regular season. He skated all season with current Stampede defenseman Tyler Nanne. His name may be familiar to hockey fans as his father is former North Stars great, Brian Bellows.
The Herd did not have a selection in rounds 2 or 3, but selected forward Alexander Drobot in round 4 (60th overall). The right-winger played this last season with the New Jersey Rockets where he tallied an impressive 68 points (45g, 23a) in 54 games. The Churchville, PA native stands at 5-foot-10 and 170-pounds and shoots left. He has already committed to play collegiate hockey at the University of Maine.
In the fifth round, the Herd chose defenseman Cole Thompson from Devils Lake, ND. Thompson finished fourth on the team in scoring with 16 points (6g, 10a) in 21 games as a freshman.
With their fourth selection overall (sixth round of the draft), Sioux Falls selected forward Jack Kopacka (3/5/98). The left-winger spent this past season skating for Compuware U16 where the tallied 24 points (7g, 17a) in 22 games. The Lapeer, MI native has good size at 6-foot and 168 pounds.
With pick five, the Herd went back on the defensive side to take de-man, Davis Bunz from the Middleton Cardinals and Team Wisconsin U16. The 6-foot, 170-pound, right-handed shot, posted 23 points (7g, 16a) in 21 games for the Cardinals this past season. He tallied one assist in six games while helping lead Team Wisconsin U16 to a national championship in April.
In round eight, Sioux Falls took forward Ashton Altman from Duluth East High School. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound winger recorded 19 points (9g, 10a) in 25 regular season games while leading the Greyounds to the Minnesota State High School AA Tournament. He has been selected to participate in the 2014 USA Hockey Development Camp in New York this summer.
With the Stampede’s seventh overall pick (9th round), the Herd went big, grabbing defenseman Tyler Nother (2/7/98). The Orangeville, Ontario native stands at 6-foot-3 and 172 pounds. In 29 games with the Halton Hurricanes Minor Midget AAA, Nother recorded 13 points (2g, 11a) and 88 penalty minutes in 29 games. The right-handed shot has already committed to play Division I college hockey at Miami of Ohio.
With their eighth and final pick of the draft, Sioux Falls selected forward Max Johnson (5’10, 170-pounds) from Lakeville North High School in Minnesota. Johnson finished in the top five in team scoring with 25 points (9g, 16a) in 24 games while helping lead the Panthers to the Minnesota State High School AA Hockey Tournament as a sophomore. He led the team in playoff scoring with 10 points (5g, 5a) in six postseason games.
Earlier in the day, the Stampede traded forward Griffen Molino to the Muskegon Lumberjacks for defenseman Chaz Switzer who appeared in 23 games with the Lumberjacks this past season, tallying one assist. He has already committed to play college hockey at Miami of Ohio. In addition the Herd acquired a fifth round pick in the Phase I draft and a third round pick in Phase II while sending a fourth round pick in the Phase II draft to Muskegon to complete the deal.
The USHL Draft continues Tuesday morning at 8 AM when Phase II begins. Phase II consists of multiple birth years as teams look to fill their protected rosters. The draft will continue until all USHL teams have 45 protected players on their roster that includes protected players prior to the draft, affiliate players from 2013-14, all players selected in Phase I and players signed to a tender. Fans can follow each Stampede pick on Twitter @sfstampede.
Courtesy: Sioux Falls Stampede Jim Olander