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Recent Region 4 News

Big Day for Alumni at Entry Draft

By Craig Peterson 07/21/2020, 8:00pm EDT

Banner Year for MI-HS Players Heading to the NAHL

In a year where 10 Michigan High School Hockey players signed North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreements to play the 2020-21 season in the United States’ top Tier-II junior league, 10 additional players with ties to MI-HS were also selected on Tuesday during the league’s entry draft. 2020 proved to be a banner year for MI-HS hockey, with a record number of NAHL tenders and draft picks in a single season.

To recap the 10 players already committed to NAHL teams prior to the entry draft…

Additionally, four more players active in MI-HS last season were selected on Tuesday, including Howell’s Stefan Frantti with the 68th pick (Minnesota Wilderness), Midland’s Matthew Babinski with the 70th pick (Chippewa Steel), Saginaw Heritage’s 2020 Mr. Hockey Recipient Brady Rappuhn with the 85th pick (New Mexico Wolves) and Country Day’s Logan Gotinsky with the 116th pick (Shreveport Mudbugs). 

After spending the 2019-20 season in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), both the 2019 Mr. Hockey recipient Joey Larson out of Hartland and Dawson McKay from Houghton were chosen with the eighth overall (Jamestown Rebels) and 81st overall (Lone Star Brahmas) picks respectively.

Kingsford’s Daunte Fortner and Lake Orion’s Gabe Potyk both forgoed their senior seasons to begin their respective junior hockey careers in the 2018-19 season. Two years later, both Fortner and Potyk were selected with the 135th pick (Lone Star Brahmas) and the 222nd pick (Corpus Christi Ice Rays).

Lastly, Luke Beerman from Marquette and Parker Rey of Flint Powers were several seasons removed from their sophomore years with their respective schools, yet both were called on draft day with the 35th pick (Lone Star Brahmas) and 177th pick (Kenai River Brown Bears). 

In total, 14 current MI-HS players from the 2019-20 season are slated to make the jump to the NAHL this fall for their first taste of junior hockey. Six more alumni in the midst of their junior careers will also have NAHL options for the 2020-21 season, bringing the total to 20 MI-HS players joining the league this fall.

Did I miss anyone? Let’s talk about it on Twitter to keep tabs on these alumni and all MI-HS players moving on to junior hockey this fall.


Craig Peterson’s comments and opinions are that of his own, and are in no way directly tied to that of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA), its member coaches, or board members. Any questions, comments or concerns regarding his work can be addressed directly to the author of the article.






Mock Draft: NAHL

By Craig Peterson 05/09/2020, 8:00am EDT

Players Still On The Board Heading into Three-Round Event

In April, the NAHL amended its 2020 Draft proceedings due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the ripple effect it’s had on organizations’ offseasons. Because of that, the league decided to add a supplemental draft with three rounds on May 11th, with the standard entry draft taking place on July 21st. The ‘draft before the draft’ affords teams the opportunity to begin filling out camp rosters and addressing needs as an alternative with the status of pre-draft camps and combines currently hanging in the balance.

With the use of NAHL tender agreements, several of MI-HS hockey’s top prospects are already spoken for and have signed with various league teams, slated to join them in the fall. Here’s a quick recap of whose already off the board and where they’re heading…



Luke Blasy, Senior Forward, Midland Dow

Tendered with the Austin Bruins on November 16, 2019


Kyle Gaffney, Senior Forward, Detroit Catholic Central

Tendered with the Aberdeen Wings on November 1, 2019


Will Jentz, Senior Forward, Brighton

Tendered with the Aberdeen Wings on November 21, 2019


Daniel Juzych, Senior Defenseman, Cranbrook

Tendered with the Fairbanks IceDogs on February 22, 2020


Dakota Kott, Senior Defenseman, Hartland

Tendered with the Jamestown Rebels on February 11, 2020


Brendan Miles, Senior Defenseman, Detroit Catholic Central

Tendered with the Fairbanks IceDogs on March 20, 2020


Jacob Onstott, Senior Forward, Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Tendered with the Shreveport Mudbugs on November 14, 2019


Tanner Rowe, Junior Forward, Calumet

Tendered with the Maryland Black Bears on November 28, 2019


Enzo Tarducci, Senior Defenseman, Detroit Catholic Central

Tendered with the Corpus Christi IceRays on November 8, 2019


Jacob Thomas, Senior Defenseman, Detroit Country Day

Tendered with the Amarillo Bulls on March 23, 2020



1. Dylan Dooley, Detroit Catholic Central

Senior Forward, 2001

He’s certainly got the size and strength for the NAHL, and could see him plugging right into a third-line checking unit type of role. Dooley scored 20 goals and 43 points on the Shamrocks’ top line this season; he’s a force below the hash marks and around the net in close quarters. As the best unsigned player in MI-HS, he’ll be playing junior hockey next year, the only question is where he lands.


2. Seth Lause, Livonia Stevenson

Senior Forward, 2001

My personal favorite on this list, Lause brings just as much value to a locker room as he does to the ice. He’s a low-maintenance, ‘yes, coach’ type of guy who would run through a brick wall for his team. He's got an extremely high hockey IQ and understands the game, great puck skills and a quick release. Can be used in a variety of roles in the lineup. 


3. Brady Rappuhn, Saginaw Heritage

Senior Forward, 2001

High school’s reigning Mr. Hockey, Rappuhn has a finisher’s touch and a quick release. Around the net, he’s a slam dunk, producing 44 goals and 89 points in 28 games his senior season. Give him an open look and it’s over. His frame is good at 6-foot, and as he develops and fills out, he’ll round out into a strong forward at the next level.


4. Matthew Babinski, Midland

Senior Forward, 2002

Another kid with the size and speed to fit at the NAHL level. Babinski functions at a fast pace and makes plays on the move that few can in high school. His senior season was cut short due to injuries, which is why I think he’s flown under some people’s radar to this point. Babinski put up 30 points in just 11 games for the Chemics this season, 36 in 49 for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies’ 16U team last season, and 50+ as a sophomore for Midland. Kid produces everywhere he goes. 


5. Adam Blust, Detroit Catholic Central

Senior Goalie, 2002

Unpopular opinion: CC goalies were some of the most overshadowed players in MI-HS this season. Blust had a 1.27 goals-against average and .933 save percentage — while counterpart Louis Finnegan had a 1.26 and .918 — which quickly gets dismissed by the stacked team they played behind. Blust is rock solid though, rarely in distress and has great potential. If he lands in a good situation, the ‘02 netminder’s value could totally take off.


6. Scott Loukus, Calumet

Senior Forward, 2001

A lot of U.P. kids tend to migrate towards the western Canadian leagues like the AJHL, MJHL and SJHL, and I could see Loukus follow that same arc. However, he’s still fully capable of landing with an NAHL team come Tuesday. He’s a little light, but all it takes is a good offseason to fill Loukus out into a heavier, stronger player. What I love is his ability to carve through opponents at top speed — ‘run through the smoke’ as they say in football — and maintain possession of the puck with his head up. 


7. Joey Cormier, Trenton

Senior Goalie, 2001

What’s different about Cormier than some of the other top goalie prospects to come out of MI-HS most recently? At 5-foot-10, he fits a similar mold to the Sam Evola’s and Will Tragge’s that have come before him. However, the three-year netminder plays with a tremendous aggressiveness towards shooters to compensate for any perceived size discrepancies. He’s got great body control and almost seems to be at his best when under siege.


8. Krzysztof Petryla, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

Senior Forward, 2001

'Cerebral' is the only word in the English language that does Petryla justice. He's very intelligent on the ice. Petryla is a big-time playmaker whose consistently a step ahead of the play. In two seasons with the Eaglets, he posted 29 goals and 74 points. As a native of Poland, a team may have to utilize one of its imports to bring in Petryla but as smart and fast as he can play, it’d be well worth the investment.


9. Gino Sessa, Detroit Country Day

Senior Defenseman, 2002

Much of the attention at Yellowjackets games was directed toward Thomas as a big-bodied D-man, but his counterpart in Sessa is just as capable of reaching the next level. He has decent size at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, and is an agile defender with a wiry shot. Sessa is a big point producer from the back end as well, racking up 14 goals and 35 points in 27 games as a senior.


10. Mason Kelly, Forest Hills Central

Junior Forward, 2002

He’s just a powerful player, strong on the puck and around the boards. Not only that, but Kelly can buzz around the ice, moving one direction, passing another and attacking the net before opponents know what hit them. He’s similar in size and style to that of Dooley and he’s a year younger, finishing his junior season with 35 goals and 54 points in 25 games. If there’s one underclassman other than Tanner Rowe that could be ready for Tier-II junior hockey, it’s Kelly.


There’s plenty of MI-HS prospects with NAHL potential. This year’s class already consists of 10 tender agreements and a handful of additional players that should be selected during the league’s draft proceedings, as well as a few main camp invitees with the possibility of playing their way into roster spots. The NAHL has continually been a popular landing spot for top MI-HS prospects and that pipeline grows stronger with each passing year. The 2019-20 season saw more than 40 alumni compete for 22 different organizations. 

What are your thoughts on this spring’s North American junior drafts and where do you think some of Michigan’s top prospects could end up? Connect with me on Twitter and let’s talk.

Craig Peterson’s comments and opinions are that of his own, and are in no way directly tied to that of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA), its member coaches, or board members. Any questions, comments or concerns regarding his work can be addressed directly to the author of the article.






Mock Draft: USHL

By Craig Peterson 04/30/2020, 1:30pm EDT

Projecting Potential Players Who Could Be Selected

The 2020 USHL Draft is set to take place next week, with Phase I occuring on Monday and Phase II on Tuesday. Fifteen teams will be equipped with 10 selections in Phase I and will continue to fill out their 45-player rosters with a wealth of picks in Phase II the following day.

Prominent MI-HS alumni have made their mark in the USHL Draft in recent years, including the likes of 2019 second-round pick Alex Nordstrom (Hancock, 2019), 2017 fifth-round pick Adam Conquest (Brighton, 2018) and 2017 seventh-rounder Jack Clement (Brother Rice, 2017), among others. Five MI-HS alumni were active in the 2019-20 season, including Nordstrom, John Druskinis (Hartland, 2020), Anthony Mollica (Jenison, 2019), Connor McGinnis (Country Day, 2017) and Caden Lewandowski (University Liggett, 2019). 

The USHL Draft is broken down into two segments. Phase I is ten rounds of “Futures” age players only, which are U-17 players for next season (2004-birth year players only for the 2020 Draft). Phase II of the Draft will take place the following day beginning with round one. This portion is open to players of all ages eligible to play junior hockey and are not currently protected by another USHL team.

It may not be your traditional, typical mock draft projecting teams and selections but I’ve got a couple names worth consideration on draft day next week. Potential prospects that could come off the board…



I don’t anticipate many, if at all current MI-HS players to be taken in the Phase-I Draft on Monday. The jump from high school to the USHL is a very steep one, and typically, most MI-HS prospects need a year or two of high-level junior hockey before making the jump to the U-Show. However, there were two budding young studs in high school this year that shined as freshmen this season. While I don’t think they’ll be ready for Tier-I junior in six months, they’re definitely promising prospects that a USHL team may want to scoop up as a long-term option.


Landon MacDonald, Brighton

Freshman Forward, 2004

He was a 10th round pick of the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL Draft earlier this month, which should perk up some ears here in the States. He’s a big power-forward type with a frame that will certainly fill out to go along with his skating ability and puck skills. MacDonald has a pretty decorated, young hockey resume playing at a high level in the World Selects Invitational and MDHL’s 16U tournament team. As the lone freshman on Brighton’s roster, he also played an impactful role among the team’s top six forwards and special teams.


Liam Beerman, Marquette

Freshman Goalie, 2004

Everyone I talked to about Beerman said the same thing, and when I saw him for myself I said it too… Kid is the real deal. Now again, will he be USHL ready by next season? I don’t anticipate that, especially at his position. However, His 14-1-0 record with a 1.33 goals-against average and .938 save percentage is legit, playing against guys that are two and three years older than him. Beerman has seen plenty of work against some aggressive competition — including some names listed below — and as he develops physically, filling out and getting stronger, it’ll only help streamline his development. 



This is where I could see MI-HS players make more of an impact in the USHL Draft. There’s a decent amount of juniors and seniors worth consideration at this stage of the process and it wouldn’t surprise me to see multiple names come off the board here. Some are more ready than others, but I think guys like Kyle Gaffney, Brendan Miles, and Tanner Rowe could step into a lineup next fall and make an impact immediately.


1. Brendan Miles, Detroit Catholic Central

Senior Forward, 2001

Miles spent the first half of the 2019-20 season with the Omaha Lancers, appearing in four games before Christmas time. He’s certainly proved he can play at this level and is quite clearly the top prospect in all of MI-HS this season. He’s so fluid and graceful in his movements and body control, snapping passes off around the rink with ease. With some prior junior-level experience in his back pocket, Miles is the type of guy who I see absolutely hitting the ground running wherever he lands in the fall and being an impact player right away. 


2. Tanner Rowe, Calumet

Junior Forward, 2002

Rowe was a 10th round pick of Green Bay in 2018, but never played for the Gamblers and I couldn’t find him on any protected lists, so he should be eligible to be drafted again in 2020. His game is extremely well-rounded and he’s very strong in all three zones. He’s a big body that can compete at a fast pace as well, which would be two important checkboxes to play at this level. Rowe is a smart enough player that I think he could provide tremendous value as a third or fourth liner who can kill penalties, but play his way into an even more prominent role by end of season.


3. Kyle Gaffney, Detroit Catholic Central

Senior Forward, 2001

Not sure there’s a player on this list who works harder than Gaffney. He was one of the top prospects in high school coming into the season and by March, was playing some of his best hockey. Watching CC this season, it was quite obvious that Gaffney was its most impactful all-around forward. Similar to Rowe, the three-year senior could have to climb the depth chart early in his junior career but I’m quite confident that with his skill set, work ethic and drive, it’s only a matter of time and opportunity before he’s as effective at the next level as he was for the Shamrocks.


4. Nick Justice, Livonia Stevenson

Junior Defenseman, 2002

The 2019-20 season was a coming out party for Justice. He dazzled in his first season with Stevenson, totaling 14 goals and 46 points against the second-toughest schedule in the state. Sometimes, a player just needs the right situation to shine and I think the right-handed defenseman found that with the Spartans. To me, he’s a younger version of Lincoln Stars D-man Anthony Mollica (Jenison, 2019) as they both can get up and down the ice effortlessly, impacting the flow of the game significantly from the back end. Justice is comfortable with the puck on his stick and responsible below the hashes in his own zone.


5. Dean Loukus, Calumet

Junior Forward, 2003

Another OHL Draft pick on the list, Loukus might still be a year away from junior hockey. However, I think a lot of comparisons could be drawn to fellow U.P.ers like Alex Nordstrom (Hancock, 2019) and Daunte Fortner (Kingsford, 2019), who both forgoed their senior seasons to pursue junior opportunities in western Canada. That tends to be a pretty common path for Northern Michigan kids but if the right USHL team latches on, maybe those plans can change. Loukus has got smooth puck skills and he’s very sneaky offensively; he could have an outside shot at Tier-I juniors given the fast pace in which he can operate at.


6. Brady Rappuhn, Saginaw Heritage

Senior Forward, 2001

Skating ability would be the one pause for concern here, but Rappuhn is as good as anyone within 20 feet of the net. He’s got a finisher’s touch and a quick release. If a team is in dire need of pure goal scorers, Rappuhn could be the answer. He might be a little raw, but he’s got a good frame and very coachable with a knack for catching on quick. You can get a kid to put on weight and become a stronger skater; I’m not so sure you can teach a kid to finish the way that Rappuhn can. To me, the pros outweigh the cons and if a team is willing to invest, there’s the potential for big returns.


7. Jacob Onstott, Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Senior Forward, 2001

There’s no doubt he’s a smart enough player to hang at this level; Onstott has a very high hockey IQ. He’s sound positionally and an awesome locker room guy. Some may say, “So what?” but to coaches, that presence can be invaluable in the room and on the bench. There’s certainly more to his game but his value as a leader is what stands out to me. Want a low maintenance guy who can fill a void anywhere in your lineup? Onstott’s your guy. My only critique is, I just haven’t seen that explosiveness in his game yet. I really want to see him throttle down in transition with those first few strides.  


By the end of the process next week, I would not be surprised to see as many as three of the above names selected in the USHL Draft proceedings. Each respective team is going to have holes to fill unique to them and their rosters, and each of the players above represent a different role or responsibility that they could fill at this level. 

What are your thoughts on this spring’s North American junior drafts and where do you think some of Michigan’s top prospects could end up? Connect with me on Twitter and let’s talk.

Craig Peterson’s comments and opinions are that of his own, and are in no way directly tied to that of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA), its member coaches, or board members. Any questions, comments or concerns regarding his work can be addressed directly to the author of the article.






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