2021 USHL Phase I Recap
Urbandale, Iowa - The Des Moines Buccaneers welcomed in 11 new players to the organization after completing Phase I of the USHL Draft on Tuesday, making a pick in each of the 10 rounds an two picks in the 4th. Des Moines selected three Canadians and eight Americans hailing from Alaska, Texas, California and even a Des Moines, IA native. The players formed a balanced unit of six forwards (two centers and four wings), four defensemen and a goaltender, bringing depth to the organization all over the ice.
The Buccaneers' first selection was center Andrew (AJ) Kuzma with the 6th overall pick. Kuzma, from Naperville, IL, has been a member of the Chicago Mission AAA program for the last three seasons and played for their Peewee program the year prior to that.
Des Moines's second round, 21st overall, pick Hunter Anderson was the first of three selections from Shattuck-St. Mary's, a private boarding school in Faribault, MN known for producing hockey legends including Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Nathan MacKinnon, Zach Parise and former Buccaneer Kyle Okposo. A left wing from Hermosa Beach, CA, Anderson is a former member of the Los Angeles Jr. Kings and last season led the Shattuck-St. Mary's 15U AAA team in goals, assists and points producing 38-40-78 in 44 games played.
The Bucs third round pick was right wing Walker Gelbard from West Vancouver, BC who tied for the team lead in points last season for the Cranbrook Bucks of the BCHL despite playing in just 12 of their 20 games. The 36th overall pick, Gelbard is 6'3, 186 lbs and his size helped him play up as a member of the NW Vancouver Hawks U18 AAA team last year, especially impressive as he just turned 16 in February.
Moorhead, MN native Joe Gramer was the first of a pair of defensemen made by Des Moines in the 4th round as he went 51st overall. Gramer was tops amongst defensemen and third overall in scoring for the Moorhead High School Spuds last season with two goals and 17 points in 22 games. Using a pick from the Muskegon Lumberjacks six selections later, Des Moines grabbed another left-shot defenseman in Drew Mackie who hails from Anchorage, AK. Another Shattuck St.-Mary's product, Mackie had a stat line of 4-16-20 in 34 games last season after producing 11-33-44 in 58 games the year before for the Sabres.
Center Matteo Michels was taken by the Buccaneers in round 5, 66th overall. Michels was tied for second in points for Bishop Kearney Selects 15U AAA team in New York after the Colleyville, TX native spent the previous two seasons playing for the Dallas Jr. Stars AAA program. Bethesda, MD native Maddox Tulacro was selected 88th overall after Des Moines swapped 6th round selections with the Chicago Steel. Tulacro brings size at 6'2 180 lbs. and led all Mount St. Charles Academy 15U AAA defensemen last year in points and assists with 1-11-12 in 29 games.
Des Moines' eighth selection was 7th rounder Sam Crane with the 96th overall pick acquired from the Tri-City Storm. The Aurora, IL native Crane was a teammate of Anderson's last year and Mackie's the past two seasons at Shattucks-St. Mary's and scored 17 goals and 36 points in 42 games.
The Bucs took two Quebec natives in back-to-back rounds starting with defenseman Frédéric Deschênes. Deschênes and 8th round selection and 111th overall, was the top scoring defenseman for was the Séminaire Saint-Joseph M15 Élite team producing over a point per game average with 6-18-24 in 23 games. The Sorel-Tracy, QC native was also called up to play two games for the M17 Mineur and one match for the M18 Mineur programs. Another member of that Séminaire Saint-Joseph M18 squad was Nathan St-Germain, the only goaltender chosen by Des Moines during the Phase I Draft. At 6'5, 189 lbs. the Trois-Rivières has the size and skill to compete at the USHL level.
The Buccaneers' last Phase I pick was Des Moines, IA native Grady Deering. An alternate captain for the Des Moines Buccaneers 15U AAA team, Deering was second on the team last season scoring 18 goals and 55 points in 59 games and also played up in 10 games for the Bucs 16U AAA squad. Deering spent the last two years with the Des Moines Buccaneers AAA organization following a year with the Iowa Wild 13U AAA team.
All players selected in Phase I of the USHL Draft were born in 2005, as the first phase only pertains to players in their first year of USHL eligibility. Phase II of the USHL Draft is open to all birth years still eligible for junior hockey play and gets under way today at 1 PM. We'll have updates on Des Moines' selections on Twitter at @bucshockey and a full recap after the draft at www.bucshockey.com.
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