Four local players were selected in the 2017 North American Hockey League draft on Tuesday, headlined by McMurray, Pa., native Stephen Rex, who was chosen by the Amarillo Bulls in the fifth round.
Rex, a 5-foot-8 forward, split the 2016-17 season between the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U18 team and the Peters Township Indians of the PIHL. He accumulated 13 goals and 23 assists over 32 games for the Pens and joined the Indians on 13 occasions, scoring 10 goals and five assists.
Since the 2015-16 season began, Rex celebrated both a national championship with the Pens Elite and a Pennsylvania Cup with Peters Township. The combination of playing deep into the season for the both teams is a tough task for a young player to balance along with academic requirements, but it seems to have paid off in the long run.
Rex will be joined in Texas by tenth-round selection Cole Edgerton, a name that should be familiar to Penguins Elite faithful. Cole is the younger brother of Luke, a current Amarillo Bulls forward and a teammate of Rex’s on their national championship squad a year ago.
Edgerton, a 5-foot-10 forward, split the 2015-16 season between the Pens Elite U16 team and Wheeling Central Catholic. In 2016-17, he had five goals and 10 assists in 29 games for the North Jersey Avalanche’s two U18 teams.
Amarillo also scooped up the NAHL rights to Bridgeville native Liam Walsh in the eighth round. Walsh spent the last two season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL. He scored four goals and had two assists in 48 games.
TIMMONS TAKEN, TOO
Another Bridgeville native playing for the RoughRiders had a safety net cast for him, as the Minot Minotauros selected the rights to forward Jordan Timmons in the ninth round.
Timmons had two goals and three assists in 19 games in Cedar Rapids. He spent the first half of the season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The a 6-foot forward is committed to the University of Connecticut.
ON THE WARPATH
The most local NAHL team — the Johnstown Tomahawks — knew that they would need to retool after this past year, especially on the back end. The faithful fans in the Flood City should not be disappointed – the Tomahawks selected rearguards with their first four picks of the draft, headlined by 16-year-old Hunter Carrick. The defender from Orland Park, Illinois registered eight goals and 22 assists this past year for the U18 Oakland Jr. Grizzlies while playing in 50 games.
The team also added rugged Joey Berkopec (Burlington Cougars) in the third round, Nick Azarovicz (Detroit Compuware 16U), and Chase Davidson (Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U) in the fourth round. Size will not be a factor at the War Memorial – Berkopec joins Carrick in the six-foot club, while Azarovicz (6-foot-3) and Davidson (6-foot-4) fill out the towers on defense. In the eighth round, the team selected West Chester, Pa., native Carter Dwyer, who also crosses the six-foot plateau at 6-foot-2.
In the fifth round, the squad took forward Chase Danol, teammate of Carrick from the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies. Danol has already committed to play for Bowling Green in 2019-20.
They grabbed their first USHL claim with their second pick of the fifth round, adding the rights to forward Mark Cheremeta from Muskegon.
The sixth round brought Michael McCosh, a Glendale, Ariz., product, and James Furey from Cederburg, Wisc.
Future Michigan State forward Cole Kodsi added to the depth on in the seventh round. The winger accumulated 32 goals and 27 assists in 55 games for the North Jersey Avalanche.
Buffalo Jr. Sabres prospect Erik Urbank became the third player committed to playing Division I hockey taken. The future Dartmouth right-winger was picked in the ninth round. In the tenth round, the Tomahawks selected Springfield (Ma.) Rifles forward Brendan White to close out their draft.
With the obvious need for size, these new Tomahawks look to fill the shoes of the history of hockey in the Valley, as aggressive hockey may certainly be back in the future.