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With the 2013 USHL Draft just days away, Tri-City Storm head coach and general manager Josh Hauge and his staff are busy preparing to bring new players to Kearney who reflect the organization’s standards on and off the ice.
“We’re looking for guys that want to come in and be a good citizen in our community,” Hauge said. “They’re pretty young kids, so we try to make sure they understand what they’re getting into and educate them on our town and league.”
Hauge also wants high-end players with winning backgrounds.
“It’s a big jump and we have to make sure guys are physically ready and have the maturity level to play in this league,” Hauge said. “You have to be able to get out and see them as much as possible and make sure you know they have the abilities we’re looking for.”
This year’s United States Hockey League draft has two phases and begins at 6 p.m. Monday with Phase 1, formerly known as the USHL Futures Draft, for players age 15 and 16. Phase 1 draft picks typically will play in future USHL seasons.
Phase 2 of the draft kicks off at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Previously known as the Entry Draft, Phase 2 consists of players mostly between ages 17 and 20 who will compete in 2013-14. Tri-City holds the No. 2 overall pick in the Phase 2 Draft.
“I think the guys that we’ll take in the first part of Phase 2 will be expected to make our hockey team and produce for us right away,” Hauge said. “There’s no question we lost a lot of scoring from last season and goaltending was a question mark. I think those are two big areas that we need to address right away.”
Hauge said the scouting process is difficult because there is such a wide variety of players coming from different areas, but the key is to try and see as much hockey as possible.
“Our head scout and director of player personnel, Steve Lowe, is on the road all the time watching different players and putting together scouting reports. We also have individual scouts in New York, Minnesota, California and other areas that are out there watching and giving us different reports on what they see.”
Phase 2 of the USHL Draft will continue until all USHL teams have 45 players on their Initial Protected List. For the Storm, that list will include 10 returning players, 13 affiliate players from the 2012-13 season and eight players selected with Monday’s Phase 1 picks.
Hauge said Phase 1 is important because it can help set his team up for success both next season and in future years. Tri-City already chose its first-round selection for Phase 1 in December when it signed Tory Dello to a tender agreement. An Illinois native, Dello is a University of Notre Dame commit who starred as a defenseman on the Chicago Mission U18 midget team.
“We need guys that can come into the league and be difference makers using their high level of skill,” Hauge said. “We’ll have one next year with Tory Dello. He’ll be with the team from the start next year.
“I think with our second pick we’re looking for the biggest splash we can make with a guy that doesn’t have to play for us next year,” Hauge added. “If he can come in and make our hockey team that’s great, but down the road he’s going to have to be the next big time player for us. That’s what your futures picks have to be, guys that are going to be big time players when they come into the league.”
The Storm are hosting a draft party for fans at the Viaero Event Center during Tuesday evening’s Phase 2 Draft. Coaches and staff will open up the draft room and discuss picks with fans between 4 and 7 p.m.
In addition, fans can get up-to-date information on draft picks at or by following the Storm on Facebook and Twitter. The Phase 1 Draft on Monday will be broadcast live and free via FASTHockey, the USHL’s exclusive digital video network.