Sioux Falls, SD – The Sioux Falls Stampede selected 19 players during Phase II of the 2020 USHL on Tuesday. The list of future Herd hopefuls includes twelve forwards, four defensemen and three goaltenders. All players, including veterans and rookies selected in the Phase I draft Monday, will report to tryout camp later this summer to be evaluated prior to the 2020-21 campaign.
“We’re really happy with the way the draft went. It was a good day for the organization. With the pieces that we already had, we were able to add to that,” said Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray. “We did not have a ton of picks in the first few rounds, but we utilized what we had well. We got some players that were higher on our list that we didn’t think would be available.”
“The entire coaching staff did a great job with the work they did, and I am thankful for Scott [Owens] coming up and helping us out. It speaks volumes about him as a person,” added Murray.
The Herd was without its first two opening round selections following trades made prior to the draft. The first pick came in the third round, 38th overall with former National Development Team Program U18 goaltender Noah Grannan. Grannan skated with the under-18 squad last season, posting an 11-10-0 record over 23 games played with a .881 save-percentage and 2.77 goals-against average. He is ranked no. 15 among North American goaltenders in the 2020 NHL Draft and is committed to the University of Wisconsin.
The team then went forward heavy with its next three selections in the first five rounds, grabbing Blake Humphrey from Penfield, N.Y. and Lucas Kanta from Grand Forks, N.D. in round four and Daniel Russell from Traverse City, Mich. in round five.
Russell played under head coach Murray with the Minot Minotauros last season, posting 21 goals and 13 assists for 24 points across 44 games. He previously played with the Fargo Force in the 208-19 season for 33 games, but only scoring two goals and five assists. He is committed to Michigan State University.
With the 144th overall selection in round 10, forward Jonas Peterek from Ostrava, Czech Republic, was selected by the Stampede. Peterek played with the Kelowna Rockets and Calgary Hitmen last season in Canada, scoring 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points in 55 games played.
Two selections later Sioux Falls nabbed goaltender Rico DiMatteo. DiMatteo previously skated with Cornwall Colts in the Central Canada Hockey League. He posted an impressive .916 save-percentage and 3.15 goals-against average despite going 17-32-0 in 55 games played.
The Herd used their next three picks on Minnesota high school players forward Hunter Jones (Andover High), defenseman Cal Thomas (Maple Grove High) and forward Mack Motzko (St. Cloud Cathedral). Motzko is the son of former inaugural Stampede head coach Bob Motzko who now is the head coach at the University of Minnesota.
Defensemen Jacob Conrad and Brian Grant were the next two selections in rounds 15 and 16, respectively, for the team. Conrad is a native of Stevens Point, Wisc., and previously skated with the Notre Dame Academy Tritons, posting two goals and 28 assists from the blue line. Grant is a native of Mansfield, Mass. and tallied two goals and 10 assists last season with Cape Cod Whalers.
In round 16 the Herd nabbed Canadian forward Tyler Cristall. Cristall is a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, skating with the Chilliwack Chiefs and West Kelowna Warriors (BCHL) last season and scoring 16 goals and 25 assists in 53 contests.
With the 264th selection in round 17, Sioux Falls took Luke Schelter from Centennial, Colo. The 6-foot, 186-pound forward skated with Mount St. Charles Academy 15U (Midget) last season. Schelter scored 22 goals and 14 assists in 55 games.
The Herd selected their third goaltender of the afternoon in Cal Sandquist who played last season with the Corpus Christi IceRays (NAHL). Sandquist put up an 8-18-0 performance over 30 games with two shutouts, .899 save-percentage and 2.88 goals-against average. He is a native of Evergreen, Colo.
Finnish forward Verner Miettinen was taken in round 20, 294 overall by the Stampede. Miettinen played for the Kiekko-Espoo U20 in his native hometown of Espoo, Finland. He was the top scorer on his team last season. He is considered a top prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft and his older brother, Veeti, is committed to St. Cloud State.
The Stampede filled the remainder of the draft with defenseman Jacob Thomas (Detroit Country Day High) in round 21, forwards Landry Schmuck (Nashville Jr. Predators), Kyle Gaffney (Detroit Catholic Central) in round 23, and, with the final selection of the draft, forward Robert Hyde (Mount St. Charles) in round 24.
Schmuck split last season between the Jr. Predators U16 T1EHL U16 and midget leagues, scoring 47 goals and 42 assists over 84 games. Hyde tallied 26 goals and 38 assists with the Mount Saint Charles Academy U18 program last season.
The Herd will be hosting a selective tryout camp prior to the USHL 2020-21 season later this summer. The team will have to determine its training camp roster prior to the return of the team to Sioux Falls in September.