The United State Premier Hockey League recently held their 2023 NCDC Entry Draft on Tuesday, April 25th. The National Collegiate Development Conference of the USPHL is a unique, tuition-free, Junior division. The division is geared towards collegiate development and beyond. Players eligible for the draft are those born in 2006 and 2007.
After finishing 12th overall (18-28-3-1) last season, the Utica Jr. Comets were granted 3rd overall selection in this year’s draft. Utica selected 11 forwards, 8 defenseman, and 1 goalie in the 20 round draft.
NCDC head coach Lou Educate is extremely happy with the draft results and believes some of the selections could see game action in Utica this season.
“We certainly had a successful draft this year. We were very fortunate to be able to grab everyone that we wanted to. We grabbed a good mix of guys, some of which we believe will be ready to play games this season, and others who will be playing another year of 16’s before being ready.”
Coach Educate and the entire Utica Jr. Comets organization pride themselves on developing players to help them make the jump to the next level of their careers.
“We want to be a part of the development process for these young players and ultimately get them where they want to go. For me, that’s the most exciting part – the potential that these kids have and trying to get the most out of them.”
“Overall we are very happy with our selections and believe each and every player has a potential future with us in Utica and especially after us.”
Gustas Zemaitis – Forward
DOB: May 24, 2006 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 154 lbs.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Current Team: Chicago Mission 16U AAA
According to Elite Prospects, in 2022-23 Zemaitis recorded 5 goals and 4 assists in 13 games with the Chicago Mission 16U AAA squad who played in the High Performance Hockey League. He added a goal and 2 assists in four playoff games. In 2021-22, Zemaitis and his Chicago Mission teammates won the USA Tier I 15U National Championship in Plymouth, Michigan. He scored a goal in the title game, a 4-1 win over Shattuck St. Mary’s of Minnesota.
Owen O’Rear – Forward
DOB: May 15, 2006 | Height: 5’7” | Weight: 150 lbs.
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
Current Team: Chicago Reapers 16U AAA
Owen O’Rear finished last season with the Chicago Reapers 16U AAA team as over a point per game player racking up 54 points in 51 games. O’Rear led the Reapers in assists (30) and total points (54). He was also tied for the team lead with 24 goals and +/- with a +17.
Dylan Woulds – Defense
DOB: March 28, 2006 | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 194 lbs.
Hometown: Oakville, Ontario
Current Team: Peterborough Petes U18 AAA
Dylan Woulds was selected by the Peterborough Pete’s in the 14th round of the 2022 OHL Priority Selection Draft and spent last season playing with their 18U AAA team. The offensive defenseman recorded 25 points in 50 games to go along with 45 penalty minutes. Dylan was described as having “a hard and accurate shot from the point” by Sports Illustrated Prospects.
Keaton Orrey – Defense
DOB: January 12, 2006 | Height: 6’0” | Weight: 185 lbs.
Hometown: Inner Grove Heights, Minnesota
Current Team: Eagan High (USHS-MN)
Orrey wrapped up his Junior season at Eagan High School in Minnesota with 8 goals, 4 assists and 60 penalty minutes. The Wildcats lost in the 3AA Quarterfinal game at Rosemount by a score of 7-1 ending their season.
Tyler Fortson – Forward
DOB: November 7, 2006 | Height: 6’0” | Weight: 170 lbs.
Hometown: Brighton, Michigan
Current Team: Honeybaked 16U AAA
The 6’0” forward picked up 14 points in 14 games with Honeybaked 16U AAA last year. No stats were available for the rest of the season.
Joshua Sardo – Forward
DOB: December 18, 2006 | Height: 5’8” | Weight: 154 lbs.
Hometown: Park Ridge, Illinois
Current Team: Windy City Storm 16U AAA
Sports Illustrated Prospects described Sardo as a natural born leader who motivates his teammates on and off the ice. He has great edgework and stickhandling skills with above average vision. Sardo played for the Windy City Storm last year and finished the season with 10 points in 29 games.
Tanner Wisniewski – Forward
DOB: May 16, 2006 | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 150 lbs.
Hometown: Cheektowaga, New York
Current Team: Nichols School (USHS Prep)
Tanner Wisniewski is a New York native who last played for the Nichols School Prep team. He led his team with 49 points in 71 games last season. He was also tied for first in goals and second in assists. Nichols season ended in the NYSAHA State Tournament where the team defeated CP Dynamo 4-0, lost to Bishop Kearney 8-4 and lost to Buffalo Regals 5-3, missing the cut for Championship Sunday.
Jack Slotka – Defense
DOB: October 10, 2006 | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 181 lbs.
Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan
Current Team: Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 16U AAA
Elite Prospects only lists stats for 15 games of Slotka’s season with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies. In those 15 games he scored 3 goals and recorded 16 assists and picked up 44 penalty minutes.
Brett Kazmierski – Forward
DOB: January 27, 2007 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 137 lbs.
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Current Team: Buffalo Regals 16U AAA
Another New York native who may be joining the Jr. Comets is Brett Kazmierski, a forward from Buffalo. Kazmierski led the Regals in goals (28), points (41), and penalty minutes (46) through 37 games last season. His 14 assists ranked second most on the team. The London Knights also selected Kazmierski in the 13th round of this year’s OHL Draft.
Ozzie Snodgrass – Forward
DOB: May 22, 2006 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 157 lbs.
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Current Team: Minneapolis High (USHS-MN)
Ozzie Snodgrass played for both Minneapolis High School and Blue Army 16U AAA last season. The available stats have him as the Blue Army team leader in goals (8) and points (15) in 19 games played. Snodgrass also led his high school team in assists (28) and points (44). He also tallied 16 goals throughout the 27 game season which was tied for first on the team.
Gabriel Trozzo – Defense
DOB: April 11, 2007 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 170 lbs.
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario
Current Team: Mississauga Senators U16 AAA
Trozzo is a defenseman who scored 14 points with the Mississauga Senators U16 team last season. Recruiting Scout had the following to say about Trozzo based on his performance at 2023 OHL Cup: “A good puck-distributor for the Senators, Trozzo is relied on plenty for the teams breakouts. Pucks always come his way for his vision up the ice, his pass selection is good and he follows up with the plays.”
Sam Prokupets – Forward
DOB: January 7, 2007 | Height: 5’6” | Weight: 130 lbs.
Hometown: Honeoye Falls, New York
Current Team: Bishop Kearney Selects 15U AAA
Prokupets marks the third New York resident drafted by the Jr. Comets. He skated for the Bishop Kearney Selects 15U team last season and recorded 24 points in 82 games.
Landon Marleau – Forward
DOB: October 16, 2006 | Height: 5’11” | Weight:146 lbs.
Hometown: Los Gatos, California
Current Team: Florida Alliance 16U AAA
Landon Marleau is son of former NHL player Patrick Marleau. Landon, like his father, is a forward and scored 12 goals to go along with 16 assists in 59 games with the Florida Alliance 16U AAA team last season. His team also played in the EP Cup Series where he picked up 3 points in 12 games.
Brady Green – Forward
DOB: June 27, 2007 | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 154 lbs.
Hometown: Trenton, Mchigan
Current Team: Compuware 15U AAA
Elite Prospects lists Green as playing 14 games for Compuware 15U last season. He had 7 points and 24 penalty minutes.
Gavin Carr – Defense
DOB: February 11, 2006 | Height: 5’9” | Weight: 150 lbs.
Hometown: Monroe, New York
Current Team: Rochester Coalition 16U AAA
Carr was second in assists (24) on the Rochester Coalition 16U team last year. He also added 7 goals and 31 penalty minutes during the 48 game season. Carr also suited up for the Churchville-Chili High School team who lost to Webster Schroeder in the Section V Division II Championship game.
Liam Carlone – Forward
DOB: February 10, 2006 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 161 lbs.
Hometown: Windsor, Ontario
Current Team: Toronto Jr. Canadiens U18 AAA
Carlone played for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens last season. Stats are incomplete, but in 8 games he picked up 6 points.
William St. James – Defense
DOB: December 8, 2007 | Height: 6’0” | Weight: 161 lbs.
Hometown: St. Catharines, Ontario
Current Team: Notre Dame Hounds U16 Prep
St. James topped all defenseman on his team with 22 assists and 26 points last season. He was 2nd overall in assists and 5th overall in points.
Gabriel Clark – Defense
DOB: October 6, 2007 | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 185 lbs.
Hometown: Hampshire, Illinois
Current Team: Chicago Fury 15U AAA
Clark is not known for his points but can be a great addition to the blue line for the Jr. Comets.
Jack Bree – Goalie
DOB: February 18, 2007 | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 161 lbs.
Hometown: Mitchell, Ontario
Current Team: Huron Perth Lakers U16 AAA
Jack Bree was the only goaltender drafted by Utica. The Mitchell, Ontario native recorded an impressive 9 shutouts in 16 games last season which helped lead to a 0.91 goals-against average.
Remy Pusater – Defense
DOB: November 12, 2006 | Height: 6’4” | Weight: 201 lbs.
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Current Team: Colorado Thunderbirds 18U AAA
Pusater had limited stats available, but picked up 4 points in 13 games with the Colorado Thunderbirds last season.
The 2023-24 USPHL NCDC season will begin in late September. The Jr. Comets play their home games at the Adirondack Bank Center and Utica University Nexus Center.
Featured Image courtesy of the USPHL.
All stats are from Elite Prospects.