The River City Lancers went into the 2003 USHL draft day already having three promising tenders (tenders are players who are not drafted, but are acquired by agreement of players/parents/coaches). Goaltender Jeff Lerg, a native of Livonia, MI, (5-5, 140#, 4-9-86) comes to the Lancers from Honeybaked AAA Midget (37GP, 30W, 4L, 3T, 66GA, 1.78GAA, .931SV%, 6SO), and looks to be the goalie of the distant future for the Lancers. If he can add some bulk and size to his frame over the summer, his chances of seeing playing time sooner could go up. Joining Lerg with the Lancers will be Honeybaked teammate Brett Motherwell (5-9, 170#, 6-17-86), from Novi, MI. Motherwell, a defenseman (56GP, 6G, 28A, 34PTS, 75PIM, +43), was also an assistant captain at Honeybaked. The final tender was for defenseman David Robertson (6-0, 184#, 10-11-85), a native of Ambler, PA. He comes to the Lancers having been a member of the NTDP U-18 team (39GP, 1G, 6A, 7PTS, 26PIM, 1PPG) last season.
The Lancers didn’t stop with the defense there, however, and when the draft got rolling, they scored a real coup by getting defenseman Andrew Meyer (6-1, 180#, 1-10-85) with the seventh pick overall. Meyer played for the Springfield Jr. Blues of the NAHL last season (54GP, 2G, 17A, 19PTS, 125PIM, 2PPG), and is committed to the Providence Friars of Hockey East for the 2004-05 season. Meyer will bring experience to the Lancer defense.
River City went after the offense next, picking forwards Eric Walsky (5-11, 180#, 9-30-84) and Dan Bertram. Walsky, the number nineteen pick, comes from the Alaska All-Stars (46GP, 29G, 33A, 62PTS, 20PIM), and Bertram, the thirty-first pick, comes from the UFA Bisons (36GP, 26G, 20A, 46PTS, 56PIM, 7PPG, 2SHG, 3GW) of the AMHL. Both are proven scorers and will add a lot of firepower to the Lancer attack.
The Lancers chose another defenseman with the fifty-fifth pick overall, Chris Frank (no stats available, 1-8-86), from the Cowichan Valley Capitols of the BCHL. Frank (58GP, 1G, 9A, 10PTS, 174PIM), a native of Lynnwood, WA, led the Capitols in penalty minutes on the season. He could prove very useful for the Lancers in the toughness category.
A whole slew of forwards followed Frank, with Erik Condra (5-11, 170#, 8-6-86) coming in at the number sixty-five spot. Condra also comes to the Lancers from Honeybaked AAA (74GP, 20G, 64A, 84PTS, 56PIM, +70), where he was second on the team in total points last season, and played in every game. He looks to be another explosive scorer. Steve Cook (6-0, 175#, 2-21-84), a native of Morrison, CO, was the number seventy-five pick, and last appeared on the roster for Air Force Academy (no stats available). Pick eighty-five saw the Lancers get Lance Malark from White Bear Lake, MN (no stats available), and pick number ninety-four found Brad Cooper (5-9, 158#, 11-17-84), from the Dallas Midgets (no stats available), joining the ranks of the Lancer selections. Cooper is said to have already decided to take a position with the Texas Tornado of the NAHL for next year, though. Tim Miller(no stats available), from Compuware AAA Midget, was taken as the one hundred and third pick by the Lancers. The next choice by the Lancers was Ryan Helgeson (6-1, 180#, 5-2-84), at the one hundred eleventh spot in the draft. Helgeson, a native of Woodbury, MN, played for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (54GP, 34G, 13A, 47PTS, 93PIM, 12PPG, 1SHG, 5GW, 3FG) of the AWHL last year, and is committed to Denver University for the 2004-05 season. He looks to be a very promising fit with the Lancers’ style of play, and will do wonders for the power play unit.
Next up were two defenseman, David Sloane (6-3, 200#, 1985) at the one hundred fifteen spot, and Tom Zabkowicz (6-0, 175#) at the one hundred sixteen spot. Sloane, another native of Ambler, PA, comes out of Choate (no stats available), and Zabkowicz, a native of Greendale, WI, comes from Culver Academy (no stats available). Both are big guys and could be impact players for the Lancer defense just because of their size.
Another forward was drafted by the Lancers at the one hundred twenty-third spot, Chris Mueller (5-10, 165#, 3-6-86). He comes out of Buffalo Saints/Nichols (no stats available).
River City was able to score four more great finds at the bottom of the draft, getting defensemen Casey Borer ( 6-2, 197#, 7-28-85) at the one hundred thirty-fifth spot and Josh Meyer (6-0, 180#, 9-27-84) at the one hundred forty-seventh spot. Borer, a native of Brooklyn Park, MN, was also a member of last season’s NTDP U-18 team (56GP, 3G, 4A, 7PTS, 46PIM, 1PPG), and will be attending St. Cloud State when his junior hockey career is over. Meyer, a native of International Falls, MT, played for the Bozeman ICEDOGS (15 GP, 1G, 2A, 3PTS, 18PIM, 1PPG) of the AWHL last season. The last two selections by the Lancers were Sean O’Conner and Kevin O’Conner, at the one hundred fifty-ninth and one hundred seventy-first spots respectively. Both natives of Trenton, MI, Sean (5-11, 155#, 1-31-87), a forward, comes via Little Caesar’s AAA Midgets (stats unavailable), while Kevin (5-11, 186#, 6-20-84), a defenseman, comes from the now-defunct Chicago Freeze of the NAHL (19GP, 4G, 13A, 17PTS, 70PIM, 3PPG, 1GW). Kevin also played for the Soo Kewadin of the NAHL during the 01-02 season (26GP, 2G, 3A, 5PTS, 26PIM). A relationship, if any, is unknown at this point, but it wouldn’t be the first pair of brothers that coach Mike Hastings has had on his team.
With eleven Lancers moving on to college hockey, there is a definite need to restock the cupboards in the Lancer kitchen. At the same time, however, it presents a tremendous opportunity for all these draftees to become part of the Lancer family, and part of America’s premier Tier I hockey program, the USHL. With so many selections, the Lancer coaching staff will be very busy when tryouts roll around at the end of June.
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