Lourdes vs Minnesota River Boys Hockey

Rochester Lourdes forward Dustin Sorensen (2) handles the puck during the Section 1A championship game against Minnesota River. Sorensen is one of eight players picked by the Rochester Grizzlies in Thursday's NA3HL Draft.

Rochester Grizzlies head coach Casey Mignone saved the most intriguing pick of his first NA3HL Draft for last.

The Grizzlies had eight picks in Thursday’s Draft and used them in a variety of ways – taking chances on some guys who may end up playing at higher levels, while also getting a good mix of talent, size, speed, and skill.

One of the chances they took was on Rochester Lourdes’ senior forward Dustin Sorensen, the Eagles’ leading scorer this season.

When the Eagles’ season ended, Sorensen was on the fence about whether he wanted to continue his hockey career or not. The 25-goal scorer has the talent to play at a high level and would be a dynamic scorer and playmaker for the Grizzlies if he ends up with them.

Sorensen finished his senior season with 25 goals and 25 assists.

“It’s his ability to control a game and slow it down when needed,” Lourdes coach Joe Knoepke said when asked what makes Sorensen such a special player. “He’s a very skilled skater, fantastic on his edges. His ability to play in tight space is second to none that I’ve seen in high school hockey in my time.

“He doesn’t play the north-south speed game that a lot of people might think. He has a unique ability to slow it down and find space that other players might not see.”

The Grizzlies started the night by drafting a talented player from a familiar program.

Rochester used its first two draft picks last year to select players from the Meijer AAA program in Michigan, and they did so again in the first round Thursday.

Devin Hays, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound forward was the Grizzlies’ first choice.

Hays has signed a tender with the Chippewa Steel of the NAHL, but if he doesn’t make the Steel roster, his NA3HL rights are now owned by the Grizzlies.

Rochester also signed a Meijer defenseman – Drayton Todoroff – to a tender for the 2019-20 season, on Wednesday.

Another intriguing pick for the Grizzlies came in Round 5, when they drafted forward Nico Vega from St. Thomas Academy. Vega (5-foot-6, 153 pounds) had 14 goals and 38 points for the Cadets last season. His selection fell in line with the Grizzlies’ coaches emphasis on adding some players from high-end programs.

The Grizzlies added five more players: Forward Braeden Bartoo of Maple Grove, who played for the Sioux Falls Power of the North American Prospects Hockey League last season (Round 4); forward Connor Tartaglione of the New Jersey Jr. Titans 18U program; forward Cody Reagle from the Meijer 18U team; forward Jackson Sabo of Rosemount; and forward Nicholas Remissong of the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals 16U team.

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Sports Reporter

Jason has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter and columnist since 2004 and covers high school football, volleyball, softball, golf, hockey, junior hockey and auto racing. He is a 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota.