KEARNEY, Neb. – The Tri-City Storm used their third overall pick in Phase 2 of the 2014 USHL Draft to select forward Mason Appleton of Notre Dame Academy on Tuesday morning, highlighting a day in which 23 names were added to the team’s Initial Protected List for the 2014-15 season.
Appleton, who hails from Green Bay, Wis., is coming off a big year in which he scored 30 goals and 40 assists in 28 games. Tri-City is hoping he’ll fill a big hole in the middle of the ice, as a big six-foot, two-inch center.
In addition to Appleton and forward Wade Allison, who the Storm signed to a tender on Monday, the team had three second round selections, who they used on goaltender Alec Dillon, forward Andy Sturtz and defenseman Cam Spicer.
Head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said the mandate heading into the draft was to get bigger and be harder to play against, and he felt both of those areas were addressed.
“I think we’re very happy,” Hulton said. “Most teams are optimistic at this point in time after the draft but we had a number of people on our wish list and we emerged from the draft with the majority of them. The broad mandate was to get a little bit older, a little bit bigger, and address some offense, and competitiveness and we think fortunately we’ve covered all areas.”
With Allison, Appleton and Sturtz, Hulton felt that right away, he was able to bring in some more offense with three of his first four Phase 2 selections. He was then in the position to take some other risks with picks that could potentially benefit the team for years to come.
“I think when you look at the player we tendered in Wade Allison who scored 70 plus goals in Omaha, Appleton, who scored 30+ goals, and Sturtz, who’s an older kid that led a pretty good Ottawa district league in scoring with over 100 points, I think those three alone addresses some of the offensive issues,” Hulton said.
With goaltender Hayden Lavigne eligible to return next season, Tri-City added to their netminding talent when they selected Dillon in the second round, 21st overall.
“We’re ecstatic with our goaltending tandem of Hayden Lavigne and Alec Dillon,” Hulton said. “Dillon is a big kid with junior experience in Victoria of the BCHL. He comes highly recommended and is widely regarded in hockey circles. To have two kids that could possibly be drafted in the National Hockey League really solidifies that area and if you can have strength in goaltending and defense no matter what league you’re in, you’re going to be successful.”
In addition to the 23 picks, Tri-City also announced the acquisition of defenseman Bobby Nardella from the Sioux City Musketeers. Nardella serves as the player to be named later in the deal the teams made for Joel L’Esperance on Jan. 20.
In 58 total games for the Musketeers this season, Nardella had two goals and 13 assists. A native of Rosemont, Ill., the blue-liner is committed to play collegiately at Notre Dame.
“It’s finally nice to be able to talk about Bobby Nardella because we had to keep that under wraps for a long time,” Hulton said. “He was a player to be named later and out of respect to Bobby and the Sioux City organization, it couldn’t be announced.
“He was a big part of the Joel L’Esperance trade in addition to Jake Wahlin so we think we’ve got two big pieces of our puzzle. Now when you look at what defensive experience we have returning with Nardella, Dello, Kerr, Schulz, some of the people that we’ve added today and some of the people we’ve already had in our system, we’re extremely excited. We think our back end is going to be amongst the most mobile in the entire USHL next year and I think when you look at the way the game’s played today, if you can have a mobile, puck moving back end, it’s one of the first keys to success.”
The full list of players drafted today is below. It is also viewable on stormhockey.com.
In addition to these draft picks, the Storm have 18 players from the 2013-14 roster that will be eligible to try out for next season’s team.
Tri-City Storm 2014 USHL Phase 2 Draft Selections
1st Round Tender: Wade Allison – Forward – Myrtle, MB – Omaha AAA
1st Round: Mason Appleton – Forward – Green Bay, WI – Notre Dame Academy
2nd Round: Alec Dillon – Goalie – Victoria, BC – Victoria Grizzlies
2nd Round: Andy Sturtz – Forward – Buffalo, NY – Carleton Place
2nd Round: Cam Spicer – Defense – Erie, CO – New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs
4th Round: Cullen Munson – Forward – Edina, MN – Edina High School
5th Round: Andrew Peski – Defense – Orleans, ON – Brockville Braves
5th Round: Mark Petaccio – Forward – Sicklerville, NJ – Pembroke Lumber Kings
7th Round: Jack McNeely – Defense – Lakeville North, MN – Lakeville North High School
9th Round: Johnny McDermott – Forward – Darien, CT – Westminster Prep School
10th Round: Carson Meyer – Forward – Powell, OH – Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets
10th Round: Blake Weyrick – Goalie – Malibu, CA – USA U-18 Team
11th Round: Joel Herbert – Forward – Edson, AB – Whitecourt Wolverines
12th Round: James Gobetz – Defense – St. James, NY – Salisbury School
13th Round: Brian Yoon – Defense – Parker, CO – Colorado Thunderbirds
14th Round: Jordan Kawaguchi – Abbottsford, BC – Chilliwack Chiefs
15th Round: Ryan Cloonan – East Longmeadow, MA – Boston Jr. Bruins
16th Round: Benjamin Israel – Bloomington Hills, MI – New Jersey Hitmen
17th Round: Tyler Busch – Lloydminster, AB – Spruce Grove Saints
18th Round: Guy Roby – Philadelphia, PA – Team Comcast
19th Round: Adam Goodsir – Okemos, MI – Lansing Capitals
20th Round: Kohei Sato – Nishitokio City, Japan – CIH Academy