The Bozeman Icedogs would like to welcome some new faces to this year’s team. June 16th was the NA3HL draft for the 2015-16 season and Head Coach Mark Vichorek was very pleased with the players he picked up for the Icedogs. "After season hundreds of players skate in several showcases and camps and tournaments around the country; I think we are very fortunate to have these players available to us in the draft. We needed to fill some open spots at defensemen and forwards after last season and I believe we have done that with some very good players that all have the potential to move up very quickly to the NAHL, USHL and to college hockey” said Vichorek.
Niko Walsh was the Icedogs’ first pick in the draft. Niko played for the Maple Grove Energy in Minnesota of the former MNJHL. Vichorek said this about Walsh’s playing abilities. "Niko is a strong skating forward that is able to score and play very physically. He had 55 points, including 30 goals for the Energy last season and also led the team in penalty minutes with 205. Niko is pretty deceptive with his speed. He has the ability to pull away from defenders and create space to make plays. He will step in and play a lot this season in all situations for us and make us even more potent on offense than the last couple years."
Jack O'Neil was the Icedog’s second pick in the 2nd round and 40th overall. O'Neil played for the Colorado Rampage last season as one of their top defenseman. "Jack is a very solid defenseman that will help us a lot. He will be counted on to see a lot of ice time on the back end. I saw Jack play in the CCM Showcase in Denver as well as at the Minot Minatauro's (NAHL) pre-draft camp in Andover, Minnesota." O'Neil played 58 games last year for the Rampage and recorded 6 goals and 25 points. "Jack's biggest asset is his ability to control the defensive end and move the puck up ice. That is one of the areas we needed to upgrade and he helps us in that regard,” Vichorek notes.
Lane Hewett was also picked in the 2nd round five picks later than O’Neil at 45th overall. Lane is a big defenseman that plays very smart all over the ice. He is good along the boards and moves the puck well. Lane played Midget Major AA for the Boise Jr. Steelheads and the Arizona Bobcats last. "Lane will help solidify our defense and help in our end and move the puck to our very talented forwards. Lane also works very well along the boards and wins battles that we didn't do as much as we needed last year," said Vichorek of Hewett.
Ryan Daugherty was the Icedogs’ next pick was in the 3rd round, 79th overall. He was later traded by the Icedogs.
Jonnie White was the Icedog's fifth pick going in the 4th round and is a very good player with skill and speed. White played in 70 games for the Rocky Mountain Roughriders Midget Minor AAA team and recorded 14 goals and 40 points. "Jonnie has the ability to turn a game around with his speed and quickness and can put himself in a good spot to score," said Coach Vichorek.
Coach Vichorek went into the draft needing defensemen and drafted several exceptional rearguards. David Dziezawiec is a big defenseman that played for the Pikes Peak Miners Midget major AAA team. "David scored 33 points on 28 games for the Miners and we want him to continue scoring like that this season,” added Vichorek. “We needed Defensemen that can hold our blueline and control the corners in our own end and David and do that as well."
The Icedogs had 2 picks in the fifth round after some trades this past season and Sean O'Leary was their next pick after David Dziezawiec and was their third pick in that round. Sean played for Cranbrook School Major Midget AAA. O'Leary scored 12 goals and 26 points in 29 games. "I saw Sean in the CCM showcase in Denver and he played very well and caught my eye as a player that can come in and contribute right away in any situation for us this season," said Vichorek of O'Leary.
Alec Sara was chosen by the Icedogs in the 6th round at 179th overall. Alec played for the Cheyenne Stampede of the WSHL. Coach Vichorek spoke with Alec about coming to play for the Icedogs this season and ran out of time getting him to sign a tender so he drafted him instead. "Alec is a big forward at 6'3" and works very hard all over the rink. We want him to continue that style of play and put up some big numbers so we can move him on very quickly."
The Icedogs had no pick in the 7th round and picked TJ Nolan with their last pick in the 8th round. Nolan played for the Rushmore Thunder last season and played very well. "I wanted TJ last year, but returned to his High School to finish and graduate with his class. I saw him play again this year in St. Louis at the High School National Tournament and he was arguably the best player in the tournament. He is an elite scorer and a very good player. He can make any team much better and can be a difference maker for us in the NA3HL," said Coach Vichorek.
Coach Vichorek said of this year's draft. "I think that these players can help be the difference between a little better than average team and a great team that will win the Frontier Division and possibly the league. Every one of these players is a quality player and quality person that any team should be proud to have. I believe we upgraded our team immensely and with hard work and this group added to our returning players we will be one of the top teams and a group that other teams will have to work hard to beat."
Camp will be starting on September 4th in Cloquet, Minnesota, but the Bozeman Icedogs will return to Montana and the Gallatin County Arena with some unfinished business from last year.