Sioux Falls, SD – The Sioux Falls Stampede selected nine players in the 2020 USHL Phase I Draft, the first under Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray, Monday afternoon. The Herd selected five forwards and four defensemen, all with 2004 birth years, to reinforce the team’s affiliate list.
“We were extremely pleased with the players we selected to fulfill needs for the future of the Stampede,” said Assistant Coach and Director of Scouting Riley Colvard. “The time and hard work put in evaluating talent this past year by the entire coaching staff helped us select a great blend and diversified portfolio of players.”
The Stampede used their first-round, fifth overall selection on defenseman Ryan Healey from Hull, Mass. The 5-foot-11, 150-pound blueliner most recently played for the Boston Advantage U16 2 squad, tallying five goals and eight assists for 13 points.
Forward Jaksen Panzer was the second-round selection for the Herd. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he skated with East Grand Forks High School during the 2019-20 season, scoring 18 goals and 10 assists for 28 points in 22 games played. He is already committed to the University of North Dakota.
In the fourth round, Sioux Falls selected right-handed forward Justin Varner from Shelby Township, Mich. Verner spent last season with the Detroit Honeybaked U15 squad, tallying 52 goals and 78 assists for 130 points across Midget and HPHL U15 leagues. His performances ranked him fifth in points among midget leagues in the United States. He stands at 6-foot and weighs 174 pounds.
Defenseman Kazimier Sobieski from South Deerfield, Mass., was the next selection for Sioux Falls. The 5-foot-10, 167-pound blueliner skated with Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres last season. He scored six goals with 13 assists for 19 points and 28 penalty minutes.
Ten selections later, 77th overall, the team went up north to select defenseman Tristan Luneau. The Trois-Rivières, Quebec, native is committed to the University of Wisconsin. He captained the Trois-Rivières Estacades (QMAAA) with six goals and 24 assists for 30 points in 37 games last season. Luneau is considered a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft.
Forward Merril Steenari was selected 97th overall in round seven. The 5-foot-7 winger from Aliso Viejo, Calif., previously skated with the Anaheim Jr. Duck’s 15U (T1EHL U15 and Bantam) leagues last season. Steenari also tallied 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points in 15 games for the Capistrano United Coyotes California high school team.
Sioux Falls went back on the defensive side with Carson Brisson from Edmonton, Alberta. He played with the Leduc Oil Kings Midget AAA program, scoring one goal with nine assists for 10 points in 29 games.
The Herd concluded the draft with forward Markus Vidicek from Kirkland, Quebec, in the tenth round. The centerman, who stands at 5-foot-8 and 142 pounds, tallied 33 points from 15 goals and 18 assists last season for the Lac St-Louis Quebec MAAA squad.
The Stampede will continue with Phase II of the draft which begins at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Fans can follow all of the Stampede’s picks by following on Twitter @sfstampede.