Tuesday was draft day in the United States Hockey League (USHL), and a franchise-record four Kenai River players made the cut to various teams.
Forward Matt Seidel, 19, was selected by the Chicago Steel as the 68th pick in the 5th round; defenseman Carson Vance, 17, was taken by the Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms in the 12th round; goalie Kris Oldham, 15, was taken by the Omaha Lancers in the 19th round; and forward Alex Jackstadt, 19, went to the Fargo (N.D.) Force in the 23rd round.
“I think it matches or is tops in the NAHL this year for most draft picks for one team,” Kenai River coach Oliver David said via phone.
The last Kenai River player to be drafted into the USHL was Mathias Dahlstrom in 2011. David said one of the reasons this year was a record-breaker for Kenai River was due to the relative age of the team.
“We had 12 20-year-olds last year, and usually the draft is targeted at 16- to 18-year-old players,” he said. “I think this year we had the youngest team ever.”
Oldham, an affiliate player for Kenai River through the Alaska Junior Aces, made one start for the Bears this season in goal — a 7-5 win over the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild on March 15. It’s an impressive statistic, as the Wild ended up as the NAHL West division champs by beating Fairbanks on Tuesday night (story below).
All four players still must earn their way onto their respective teams, and if they fail to do that, they will drop down to the affiliate roster of their organization.
That also means that Kenai River could possibly use the player if they so choose.
“In terms of success, they all have a chance at making those teams,” David said. “It’s little consolation to all the Brown Bear fans, and selfishly for me too.
“It’s another record-setting day, although it’s guys leaving our team that we want to have back. It’s a feather in our cap.”
Wenatchee beats Fairbanks to enter Robertson Cup playoffs
The Wenatchee Wild took a 3-1 victory over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Tuesday night to capture the North American Hockey League West division title in a 3-2 series.
The win means the Wild will be making the trip to the Robertson Cup playoffs, set to begin on Friday.
Fairbanks scored first, getting a goal five minutes, 56 seconds into the second period, but Wenatchee tied it up with a goal less than 10 minutes later.
The gamewinner came 7:45 into the third period, and Wenatchee put in an insurance goal on Fairbanks’ empty net with 1:07 left in the game. Wenatchee outshot Fairbanks 26-18.