The success of the Rochester Grizzlies in their inaugural season continues to show.
Three Grizzlies players were selected in Tuesday’s North American Hockey League draft, giving those players an opportunity to advance in their junior hockey careers come this fall.
The movement of Grizzlies players started early in the Draft, when the Austin Bruins selected from within their own junior hockey family.
The Bruins drafted Grizzlies defenseman Cullen Rush with the No. 43 overall selection, the 17th pick of the second round.
The second Grizzlies player selected came in Round 13, when the newest NAHL team – the New Mexico Ice Wolves – drafted former Rochester Lourdes and Grizzlies forward Lucas Newman with the second pick of the round. New Mexico also has ties to the Bruins/Grizzlies family, as long-time Bruins assistant coach Keenan Kelly is now an associate head coach with the Ice Wolves.
The final Grizzlies player to be selected was Duluth native Porter Haney. The do-it-all forward was selected by the Corpus Christi (Texas) Ice Rays in Round 14. Corpus Christi assistant coach Al Rooney is a former Austin Bruins associate head coach.
Rush played in just six games for the Grizzlies, joining them late in the season, but he instantly slotted into the team’s top-four defensemen rotation and remained their throughout the postseason.
Newman finished his first season in the NA3HL with 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points, while Haney played in all but one regular-season game and was a “Swiss Army knife” for the team, according to coach Casey Mignone.
Haney had 31 points this past season, including eight goals and 23 assists, for the Grizzlies.
“It’s tremendous for those guys and for us,” Mignone said of Rochester’s players moving up to the NAHL. “We’re up to six guys now either tendered or drafted (in the NAHL), in the first year of our program.
“It’s a big accomplishment and a testament to the work the guys put in last year. We hope those numbers keep improving in the future. That’s our goal – and my goal – to move guys on to the next level.”
BRUINS LOAD UP ON ‘D’
The Bruins selected four players in Tuesday’s draft, and went heavy on blue-liners.
Austin had two key defenseman finish their junior eligibility this past season, team captain and Denver University commit Lane Krenzen, and Terry Ryder, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman who played in 66 games last season for Austin.
The Bruins chose Chris Tamer, a defenseman from the Trenton Golden Hawks in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, in the first round, with pick No. 17 overall. In Round 2, at pick No. 40, they added Camden Gallagher, a blue-liner from the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Lloydminster Bobcats.
Austin selected Rush from the Grizzlies with their second second-round pick, then added forward Mason McCormick from the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints in the third round, No. 69 overall.