YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With the most successful season in franchise history coming to an end over the weekend, the Youngstown Phantoms have shifted their focus toward 2013-14 and beyond starting Monday Night with Phase 1 of the USHL Draft.
The draft pool for Phase 1 of the draft, formerly referred to as the “USHL Futures Draft”, was made top players in the 1997 birth class. The Phantoms selected eight skaters in all – six forwards and two defensemen.
“We’re very happy with our draft,” assistant general manager and director Jason Koehler said. “Everyone has different things they look for, and we weren’t sure what might be available for us when and where, but at the end of the day, we’re thrilled with how it all turned out.”
The Phantoms led off by bolstering their blue line, selecting 6-foot-3 defenseman Steven Ruggiero with their first-round pick. Ruggerio, who hails from King’s Park, N.Y., the same hometown as current Youngstown defender Jimmy Mazza, recorded two goals, seven assists and nine points in an injury-shortened season with the Metro Fighting Moose of the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League.
With their second-round pick the Phantoms selected forward Kevin Conley out of Wausau West High School in Wisconsin. As a sophomore, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Conley led Wausau West in scoring with 17-14-31 in 28 games played.
“We were able to get two of our top-rated players available – two guys we really wanted – with those first two picks,” Koehler said. “Ruggerio is a big, rangy pro-style defenseman that we wanted here and that you just don’t get the chance to draft all the time.
“Conley excelled playing Wisconsin high school hockey,” Koehler said. “We’ve had some great experiences with Wisconsin kids,” such as Alexander Dahl.
The Phantoms swapped their fourth-round pick with Sioux City’s last November as part of the trade to acquire Cam Brown. With a pair of third-round picks, they again looked to add to their firepower up front adding forward Ethan Price of the Omaha AAA Lancers Under-16 team at 34th overall and Carson Gicewicz of Nichols prep school in New York at 39th.
Youngstown added three more forwards with solid bloodlines in rounds 5-7, grabbing Chase Pearson, son of former NHLer Scott Pearson in the fifth; Kole Sherwood, younger brother of Phantoms affiliate and Miami University recruit Kiefer Sherwood, in the sixth; and Sam McCormick, whose older brother Max is a sophomore at Ohio State and a 2011 draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, in the seventh.
With their eighth and final pick, Youngstown added to their depth at defense, taking Canadian-born defenseman Kris Myllari of the U16 AAA Ottawa Senators.
Phase 2 of the USHL Draft will take place Tuesday evening is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7beginning at 5:00 p.m. EST, and all selections will be posted in real-time at www.USHL.com. Previously known as the “USHL Entry Draft”, Phase 2 of the Draft consists of players from multiple birth years as USHL teams look to fill their protected lists with players who will compete for roster spots for the 2013-14 season.
Phase 2 of the USHL Draft will continue until all USHL teams have 45 players on their Initial Protected List. That list includes affiliate players from the 2012-13 season and players selected in Phase 1 of the 2013 USHL Draft.
Full list of Phantoms USHL Draft: Phase 1 Selections
Round 1 (ninth overall): Defenseman Steven Ruggiero – Metro Fighting Moose (MetJHL)
Round 2 (24th overall): Forward Kevin Conley – Wausau West (Wisconsin High School)
Round 3: (34th overall): Forward Ethan Price – Omaha AAA Lancers (U16)
Round 3: (39th overall): Forward Carson Gicewicz – Nichols School (New York Prep)
Round 5 (69th overall): Forward Chase Peterson – Atlanta Fire AAA (U16)
Round 6 (84th overall): Forward Kole Sherwood – Ohio AAA Blue Jackets (U16)
Round 7 (99th overall): Forward Sam McCormick – Notre Dame Academy (Wisconsin High School)
Round 8 (114th overall): Defenseman Kris Myllari – AAA Ottawa Senators (Midget Minor)
Courtesy: Youngstown Phantoms