USHL: Lincoln Stars draft full of promise, surprises

By Richard Roeder

The Lincoln Stars had little time to celebrate the Clark Cup championship before turning their sights to next year. Unsure of the status of veteran Star goalie Phillippe Lamoureux, Coach Steve Johnson pulled the trigger and acquired two USHL veterans from the franchise formerly known as the Topeka Scarecrows last year. Layne Sedevie was one of the top goaltenders in the USHL last year, with a league-leading 22 wins prior to an injury that shortened his season. Sedevie suffered a neck injury, ironically against Lincoln, but appears to be ready to resume his hockey career. That is more than fine with Coach Johnson, who almost convinced the veteran netminder to play for Lincoln prior to him signing with Sioux Falls before the 2001-2002 season. Lamoureux is committed to North Dakota for the 2004-2005 season, but it is no secret around Lincoln that the Sioux want him to think about starting a year early. In addition, the Stars also acquired Adam Bartholomay, a forward whose numbers from 2002-03 (18G-20A-38pts) ranked among the top 5 for last year’s Scarecrows. The Scarecrows franchise, scheduled to move to the St. Louis area for 2003-2004, received two draft picks as compensation.

Lincoln also signed two tenders prior to the draft. Tenders are players who agree in principle to play for the teams who sign them. Defenseman Nick Tuzzolino, who played last year for the Boston Lightning of the OHA, was signed to protect the blueline for the Stars next season. At 6’6” and 220 lbs, Tuzzolino is a stay-at-home defenseman who provides a physical presence that Lincoln lacked last year. He is joined by Garrett Raboin from Detroit Lakes, Minn. Also a defenseman, Raboin is more of a scoring threat, tallying 37 points for Detroit Lakes (17-6) in section 8a high school action in Minnesota. They join previous tender Evan Rankin, who played for AAA Honeybaked last year. Their leading scorer, Rankin posted an impressive 93 points (50-43) last year.

Summary of the Moves

2003 Off-Season Trades:
Adam Bartholomay F 5’9” 173Agoura Hills, CA,4/11/83USHL
Layne Sedevie G 5’11” 194 Bismark, ND, 1/18/83USHL

2003 Tenders:
Evan Rankin F 6’1” 180 Portage, MI 3/28/86
Nick Tuzzolino D 6’6” 220 Buffalo, NY 1/19/86OHA
Garrett Raboin D 5’10” 170 Detroit Lakes, MN NA

2003 Draft:
Hank Carisio F 6’2” 205 Cheshire, CT11/23/83 NAHL
Aaron McCloyF 5’9” 170Vermontville, MI9/11/84NAHL
*Alex LeavittF5’10”175Edmonton, AL1/31/84NCAA
Jim JorgensonD6’0”180Sault Ste. Marie, MI7/19/85NAHL
Jared BollF6’0”172Crystal Lake, IL5/13/86
Brett TylerD5’9”180Maynard, MA4/1/86EJHL
Chris TarkirF6’1”175Fresno, CA6/28/84BCHL
Matt GreeneF5’9”170Boston, MA12/5/85
Trevor LudwigD6’1”200Colleyville, TX5/4/85NAHL
Tom ManninoF6’0”205Farmington, MI2/19/87
*Sidney CrosbyF5’10”175Dartmouth, NA7/9/87
Jimmy RussoF6’0”160NA (Cushing Prep)1/18/85
Nick BiondoF5’8”180Parma, OH4/18/85NAHL
Pat Watson, G6’1”180Boston, MA2/2/84
Brian McGuirkF5’11”175NA (Gov Dummer)7/11/85

(*) import

The most curious on the above list are the two imported players. Alex Leavitt spent two years at Wisconsin, putting up good numbers as a freshman. Playing time fell off last year after a falling out between him and Coach Mike Eaves. It is not a huge reach to see him not returning to the Badgers, but will he play a year of juniors? Age is not a factor, and maybe he needs some exposure to attract another school. Interesting.

Ever heard of Sidney Crosby? Crosby grabbed national attention up north in 2002, winning MVP of the Air Canada Cup Midget Hockey Tournament at 14. Not a big deal? As a sophomore at prestigious Shattuck’s St. Mary’s, Sidney’s line says it all. In 57 games, Mr. Crosby merely racked up 162 points (72G-90A), with 15 game winners. Drafted in the 14th round, the chances of Crosby playing for Lincoln are probably slim, as he is projected as the 1st pick in the QMJHL, but until he is dropped off the protected list, Stars fans can dream.

Draft picks Hank Carisio and Aaron McCloy add junior experience and scoring prowess. Carisio was an assistant captain for the Jr. Blues last year, tallying 60 points and 250 PIM. With good size and hands, Carisio will be a welcome addition next year. Another NAHL veteran is McCloy. He was one of the leading scorers for the Capitol Centre Pride last year.

The Lincoln Stars have also started scouring the East Coast more than in the past. With six draftees from that area, Lincoln has cornered the market on an area of the country not usually associated with the USHL. Now all they have to do is convince them to come to Lincoln. It will be interesting to see if they are successful.

Keep in mind that only two draft picks from last year actually suited up for the Clark Cup champs. But Lincoln did their homework, and drafted a talented group that is well thought of by scouts and media in the area the players hail from. Lincoln can protect 30 players until July 1st, it will be after that date when this draft can be evaluated. The rosters then drop to 23, and we can see how many of these picks have a serious chance to play for Lincoln and how many were just wishful thinking.