Another USHL has come and gone, as both Phases of the Draft were completed Monday and Tuesday. Per the USHL: Phase I Draft consists of 10 rounds of “Futures” age players, who will be under-17 players for the next season. For the 2022 Draft, this is 2006 birth year players. Phase II of the Draft is open to players of all ages who are eligible to play junior hockey and are not currently on one of the protected USHL rosters. The Phase II Draft continues until all Member Clubs have filled their roster to a total of 45 players, including those who were previously on the Club’s affiliate list. In the Draft, five members of the Maryland Black Bears and four other Marylanders were selected in the draft.
Starting with the Black Bears, Luca Di Pasquo didn’t need to wait long for his name to be called. Di Pasquo was picked by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 6th overall in the Phase II portion. Di Pasquo had a stellar season with a 16-11-5 record, 2.31 GAA and .924 save percentage, while also playing for the Green Bay Gamblers in a spot-start and getting his first USHL win. In the fifth round, Luke Van Why was selected by the Des Moines Buccaneers after his solid season leading team defensive scoring with 30 points and picking up Defenseman of the Month honors in September.
The veteran Black Bears were next, with Kevin Scott getting selected by the Fargo Force in the seventh round. Scott’s physical presence complimented his booming shot, resulting in seven goals from the point. Then two more Black Bears shuffled up to Youngstown, with Branden Piku getting selected in the eighth round and Sean Kilcullen (Kensington) in the 12th round for the top affiliate Phantoms. Piku lead Maryland in goals with 18 and was second in points, while Kilcullen put together a quietly good season with 20 assists on the year.
Maryland players were well represented, in addition to Kilcullen, starting with John McNelis (Potomac) going in Phase I in the third round to the Sioux Falls Stampede. McNelis played for the Little Caesars 16UAAA team, racking up 10 goals and 17 points in 12 games.
In Phase II, Jack Spicer (Rockville) went in the seventh round to the Waterloo Black Hawks. With the Mount St. Charles 18UAAA team, Spicer went 26-4-4 with a 2.51 GAA and .918 save percentage, while also getting a call-up to the NAHL with the Lone Star Brahmas, winning both his starts at the end of the year. Evan Orloff (Bethesda) was the next Old Line Stater to get picked, as he went in the 12th round to the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Playing with the Maine Nordiques, Orloff has 13 assists and 18 points in his rookie campaign in the NAHL. Finally, Will Lawrence (Bethesda) was selected in the 19th round by the Green Bay Gamblers. Lawrence was a teammate of Spicer, potting 34 goals and 57 points with Mount St. Charles’ 18UAAA squad.
These selections show a great display of hard work and how far hockey in Maryland has come in the last few years, as talent from the area is getting recognized higher and higher up the tier list of hockey. While this doesn’t automatically give these players a spot, it gives them a boost to know they are doing the right things to make it further into their hockey careers.