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Recent Region 5 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.






Lakers Get Commitment From Venegoni

By Craig Peterson 05/01/2020, 10:30am EDT

Churchill Alum Heading To Sault Ste Marie In The Fall

On Thursday, three-year letterman Jordan Venegoni (Livonia Churchill, 2018) announced on Twitter his verbal commitment to join Lake Superior State for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The 19-year-old is slated to join fellow MI-HS alum Spencer DenBeste (Marquette, 2017) in the Lakers’ incoming freshman class.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I am extremely honored to announce my commitment to play Division 1 hockey at Lake Superior State University. I would like to thank my family, coaches, and teammates who have helped me get to this point! <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#lakers</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Jordan (@Jordanvenegoni1) <a href="">April 30, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Venegoni played 62 games in three seasons for the Chargers, scoring 50 goals and 109 points during his high school career. The 2017-18 season was a busy one for the 6-foot forward — a senior at the time — as he began the fall in the NAHL with Amarillo. After playing eight games with the Bulls, he returned to Churchill for his senior season, playing through Christmas break before spending the second half with Honeybaked.

The Livonia native returned to Amarillo and the NAHL the following season, where he has remained for the last two years, playing in more than 100 regular-season and playoff games. Venegoni finished in the Top 20 in scoring, with 51 points in 54 games in ‘19-20, as the Bulls abruptly ended the season second in the league with 83 points. 

Bound for Sault Ste Marie, Venegoni is the fourth former MI-HS player to make a Division-I commitment in 2020, joining fellow Amarillo teammate and Trenton alum Nick Trela (St. Lawrence) as well as Brighton alum Tim Erkkila (Northern Michigan) and Hartland product Jed Pietila (Michigan Tech).

Got more alumni news? Let’s talk about it on Twitter! With more than 40 MI-HS alumni on NCAA D-I rosters and upwards of 100 more playing high-level junior hockey, there’s plenty to discuss. 


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.