June 26, 2014
Notre Dame, Ind. – Life in the National Hockey League never seems to stand still. What a busy week for hockey fans this has been. First, the newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame were named on Sunday, and then the year-end awards were handed out on Tuesday.
New coaches were hired in Carolina, Florida, Vancouver and Pittsburgh during the week and teams can begin talking to free agents on Thursday. Starting on Friday evening, the NHL will hold its annual Entry Draft with the two-day event on June 27-28 being hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
This year’s draft will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night (June 27) with the first round and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network in the United States and TSN and RDS in Canada. Rounds 2-7 will be held on Saturday, June 28, beginning at 10 a.m. with the NHL Network providing live coverage to viewers throughout North America.
Heading into the draft, three players with ties to the Notre Dame program, including two who will play for the Irish in the 2014-15 season, could hear their names called on Saturday in rounds two through seven. The two current team members are incoming freshmen – forward Jake Evans (Toronto, Ont.) and defenseman Luke Ripley (Kitamit, B.C.). They are joined by Joe Wegwerth (Brewster, N.Y.) who will play this season for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers.
All three players were ranked in NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings in April. Evans was ranked 106th among North American skaters with Wegwerth following at 139th. Ripley, who was ranked 86th by Central Scouting for the 2013 Draft was given a limited viewing ranking as he was injured for a large part of the 2013-14 season.
Players born between Jan. 1, 1994 and Sept. 15, 1996 are eligible for selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Additionally, undrafted, non-North American players over the age of 20 are eligible for the draft and those players who were drafted in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but not signed by an NHL team and who were born after June 30, 1994, are also eligible to re-enter the draft.
Evans is a 6-0, 172-pound right-handed forward who joins the Irish after spending two seasons with the St. Mikes Buzzers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) where he saw action at both right wing and center. A strong, all around player with above average skating ability, Evans is a skilled offensive player with good vision who can create scoring opportunities. Good with the puck, he can create space for himself on the ice and has good hands around the net. In his second season with the Buzzers, he was second in scoring with 16 goals and 47 assists for 63 points in 49 games. He had two power-play goals, one short-handed tally and three game winners as he helped the Buzzers to a 27-19-6-1 mark and third place in the South Division of the Southwest Conference. His 47 assists led the team as did his 18 assists on the power play. In five playoff games, he had five assists as St. Mikes lost to North York, four games to one in the quarterfinals. As a rookie in 2012-13, Evans had 12 goals and 32 assists for 44 points with three power-play goals and three game winners in a season that saw the Buzzers finish first in the South Division on the way to the OJHL championship. A finalist for the Canadian Junior Hockey League rookie of the year award, Evans has played two years with Team Canada East at the World Jr., A Challenge and was a first team OJHL all-prospect selection. He is the highest ranked prospect from the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Ripley is a 6-3, 197-pound left shot defenseman who has played the past two seasons with the Powell River Kings in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). This season, he missed over 20 games due to injury, playing in 29 contests, recording eight assists for eight points with 38 penalty minutes. Powell River finished second in the BCHL’s Island Division with a 36-16-4-2 record. The Kings would defeat Nanaimo, 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Victoria in the Division finals. In 11 playoff games, Ripley had two assists. In his first year in Powell River, 2012-13, Ripley played in 46 games last season, scoring two goals with 11 assists for 13 points while racking up 85 minutes in penalties. During the year, he was selected to play for Canada West in the World Junior A Challenge that was held in Yarmouth, N.S. His squad lost in the gold medal game to the USA Select team that included current Irish center Vince Hinostroza (Bartlett, Ill.).
Wegwerth is a 6-3, 230-pound left wing who has spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program and will spend the 2014-15 season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. A prototypical power forward, Wegwerth is big, strong and tough to stop. He’s got good hands and is an offensive-minded player who continues to improve all aspects of his game. Strong on his skates, Wegwerth is good in the corners and in front of the net and is does not stray far from the physical play. In 60 games this season for the Under-18 team he had three goals and six assists for nine points and led the team with 123 penalty minutes. He was a member of the Under-18 team that won the gold medal in April at the World Under-18 championships. Last November, he helped the U.S. to a silver medal at the Four Nations Tournament in Finland. He started the 2013-14 season by being selected to play in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects game held in Pittsburgh in late September where he scored a goal for Team Mullen. Last season with the Under-17 team he had seven goals and six assists for 13 points in 27 games in a season cut short due to injuries. He was selected by Green Bay with in the 2014 USHL Entry Draft in the second round, 28th overall.
Since 1969, National Hockey League teams have drafted 74 Notre Dame players, including four first round selections – defenseman Ian Cole in 2007 (18th overall by St. Louis), center Riley Sheahan in 2010 (21st overall by Detroit), defenseman Jarred Tinordi in 2010 (22nd by Montreal) and right wing Kyle Palmieri in 2009 (26th overall by Anaheim). Tinordi never played at Notre Dame.
The Irish currently have eight players on their roster who have heard their names called at the NHL Entry Draft – senior Robbie Russo (New York Islanders, fourth round, 2011), senior Austin Wuthrich (Washington, fourth round, 2012), junior Thomas DiPauli (Washington, fourth round, 2012), junior Steven Fogarty (New York Rangers, third round in 2011), junior Mario Lucia (Minnesota, second round, 2011), sophomore Vince Hinostroza (Chicago, sixth round, 2012) and freshmen Connor Hurley (Buffalo, second round, 2013) and Cal Petersen (Buffalo, fifth round, 2013).
Besides Evans, Ripley and Wegwerth, six other players with ties to Notre Dame hockey are eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft as they all are 18 and older and less than 20 years old at the time of the draft. The remaining eligible players are: Tony Bretzman (Mendota, Heights, Minn.), Nathan Billitier (Spencerport, N.Y.), Bobby Nardella (Rosemont, Ill.), Jordan Gross (Maple Grove, Minn. ), Dawson Cook (Cadillac, Mich.) and Andrew Oglevie (Fullerton, Calif.).