Janesville selects goalie
If you can’t stop the puck, you can’t win games.
That’s why Bill McCoshen, managing general partner of Wisconsin Hockey Partners, grabbed a goaltender with the Janesville junior hockey team’s first pick in Wednesday’s NAHL player draft.
The soon-to-be-named Janesville team, which had the first overall pick, made Matt Wichorek its first-ever draft choice. Wichorek, an Anchorage, Alaska native, played last season for the NAHL’s Springfield Junior Blues where he posted a 10-13 record. Wichorek had a 3.60 goals against average and an .892 save percentage for a team that finished 27-26-5. Wichorek also played for the NAHL’s Kenai River Brown Bears during the 2008-09 season.
“When Springfield didn’t protect him, we jumped at the chance to get a guy with 50 games of experience in the league,” McCoshen said. “That wasn’t the original plan for our first pick.”
Through trades, Janesville ended up taking 16 players in its first draft. The team picked four defensemen, one goaltender and 11 forwards as it began the process of stocking its roster for the first season set to start in September.
In addition the tender already offered to Janesville Bluebird Ross Mauermann, the team also drafted two state players and future Wisconsin Badgers—Madison Edgewood’s Cody Strang and Appleton North’s Matt Paape. Both players were also members of Team Wisconsin.
McCoshen admitted drafting those two players was a huge gamble.
Strang was a fifth-round pick last week by Mahoning Valley of the USHL. Paape was drafted last fall by Sioux City of the USHL.
The only way either player could end up in Janesville is by failing to make the roster for the USHL teams holding their rights.
“It’s a long shot we will get them,” McCoshen said. “But we felt we did pretty good with our tenders and our other draft choices, so it was worth the gamble.”
Strang scored 39 goals and had 76 points last season en route to being named Wisconsin’s Mr. Hockey by the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association. Strang has committed to Wisconsin and is expected to play for the Badgers in 2010-11.
Paape (pronounced POPPY) finished with 20 goals and 34 assists last season. The first-team all-stater has also committed to Wisconsin.
“Taking the gamble on Paape and Strang meant we didn’t get a chance to draft a couple local kids we had our eyes on,” McCoshen said. “We went with experience. We made trades to get veteran defensemen.
“We promised our community we’d do our best to be competitive right away. That’s our goal.”
Janesville tapped three draftees from the San Jose Junior Sharks—forward Garrett Melman, defenseman Andrew Pierson and forward Sam Chinimo. Coincidentally, one of the Janesville team’s co-owners is former Badger and current San Jose Shark, Joe Pavelski.
“Joe wasn’t familiar with any of the players from the Junior Sharks,” McCoshen said.
The Janesville team certainly burned up the phone lines on draft day, with McCoshen in his car driving between Milwaukee and Madison, head coach Dane Litke in Bismarck, N.D. and assistant coach Sean Storie in Superior all participating in a lengthy conference call.
The Janesville team has two summer tryout camps scheduled in its quest to find players. The first camp is June 26-28 in Duluth, Minn. The second is set July 17-19 at the Janesville Ice Skating Center.
“Janesville hockey is now on the map,” McCoshen said.
JANESVILLE DRAFT PICKS
Janesville’s NAHL draft picks with round, player’s name, position, last team
-- 1. Matt Wichorek, goaltender, Springfield Junior Blues.
-- 2. Derek Jacobson, forward, Pittsburgh Hornets.
-- 3. Jose Delagadillo, defenseman, Milwaukee Junior Admirals.
-- 3. Ryan LaDouceur, defenseman, Fargo Force (USHL).
-- 4. Rui Encanarcao, forward, New Jersey Rockets.
-- 5. Garrett Melman, forward, San Jose Junior Sharks.
-- 6. Andrew Pierson, defenseman, San Jose Junior Sharks.
-- 7. Jimmy Constantine, defenseman, Russell Stover.
-- 8. Billy Mulligan, forward, Phoenix Polar Bears.
-- 9. Sam Chinimo, forward, San Jose Junior Sharks.
-- 10. Grant Huttle, forward, Hermantown High School.
-- 11. Mason Walters, forward, Colorado Rampage.
-- 12. Casey Kirley, forward, Springfield Junior Blues.
-- 13. Cody Strang, forward, Team Wisconsin.
-- 14. Matt Paape, forward, Team Wisconsin.
-- 15. Tom Paine, forward, Bridgeton Academy.