116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The protected list for each United States Hockey League club going into the two days of the league’s draft every year has become a closely guarded secret to the general public.
That’s OK. It’s a long way until the 2022-23 season begins, and everything personnel-wise is as fluid as it gets.
But one thing you can say with high confidence about the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders is that they expect to have a lot of returning defensemen from this past season. That was proven Tuesday.
The RoughRiders took 18 players in the Phase II draft: two goaltenders, 12 forwards and only four D-men. They drafted eight guys before selecting a defenseman: 17-year-old Moorhead, Minn., resident Joe Schiller, who has committed to play college hockey at Northern Michigan.
Those expected to return and compete for a roster spot in 2022-23 are (in no particular order) Joe Fleming, Liam Lesakowski, Will Brenner, Dominic Elliott, Brendan Fitzgerald and Eric Pohlkamp. That’s a full lineup.
“We’re in a situation where we’ve got some experience coming back,” RoughRiders Coach/General Manager/President Mark Carlson said. “We’ve also got some guys on our Futures List — David Posma, for one — to where we think we’re going to be in good shape back there. We had a fair amount of forwards move on to college hockey. That’s great for them, and we’ve got to replace guys there.”
Cedar Rapids took seven players in Monday’s Phase I portion of the draft, which consisted of kids with 2006 birthdates. Its first-round selection was Lukas Fischer, a left-shot defenseman who plays for the powerhouse Detroit Compuware youth program.
He’s the son of former Detroit Red Wings rearguard Jiri Fischer, who is Detroit’s associate director of player personnel.
“We think he’s one of the best defensemen in the country in his age group,” Carlson said. “Not just talent-wise, but character-wise, putting the whole package together. We felt really fortunate to draft him where we did. To me, he’s a hungry, competitive guy. As we told him, when he’s ready, we want him in a RoughRiders uniform, whenever that is. If it happens to be this year, that’s great. If it’s next year, that’s great.”
C.R.’s Phase II top pick was 18-year-old goaltender Luca DiPasquo. He’s a Michigan resident and Michigan State commit who played in the North American Hockey League this past season, a junior league considered a notch below the USHL.
The RoughRiders’ other goalie draftee was Sam Scopa, a prep school kid from out east. Returnees Geno Pichora and Bruno Bruveris are expected to compete for spots in 2022-23 as well.
“A high-character person,” Carlson said of DiPasquo. “He competes. He’s composed, poised, very, very sound fundamentally. A quality goalie.”
DiPasquo was Phase II’s sixth-overall selection. Cedar Rapids had another first-round pick in center Carson Buydens, an 18-year-old center from Manitoba who is a Princeton commit.
“Good two-way player,” Carlson said. “He’s tenacious, physical, well-rounded. A character guy.”
C.R.’s voyage into Manitoba continued in the second round with the selection of forward Jordan Hughesman, a 19-year-old Merrimack commit. Others drafted who have made college commitments include fourth-rounders Ryan Walsh (Brown) and Zion Green (Northern Michigan), 12th-rounder Ryan Philbrick (New Hampshire) and 17th-rounder Riley Bassen (MIchigan State).
Bassen’s father, Bob, played over 700 games in the NHL with teams such as the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars.
“I think our staff did a good job,” Carlson said. “It’s a year’s worth of work, so it was a good couple of days. I thought the guys were organized and did a good job.”
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Phase I USHL draft picks
(All 2006 birthdates)
- 1. Lukas Fischer D (Plymouth, Mich./Detroit Compuware 15s)
- 3. Gavin Uhlenkamp F (Chanhassen, Minn./Chanhassen HS)
- 4. Michael Risteau F (Lakeville, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s HS)
- 5. Ronnie Hill F (Saco, Maine/Seacoast PA Spartans 15s)
- 6. Ryder Shea G (Framingham, Mass./St. George’s School)
- 7. Jack Montaldo D (Commack, N.Y./Mount St. Charles Academy)
- 8. Isaiah Yates F (San Diego, Calif./L.A. Junior Kings)
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Phase II USHL draft picks
- 1. Luca DiPasquo G (Livonia, Mich./Maryland Black Bears NAHL), 18 years old
- 1. Carson Buydens C (Gladstone, Manitoba/Virden Oil Capitals), 18
- 2. Jordan Hughesman F (Winnipeg, Manitoba/Selkirk Steelers), 19
- 4. Ryan Walsh F (Macedon, N.Y./Salisbury Prep School), 18
- 4. Zion Green RW (Birmingham, Mich.)/Maine Nordiques NAHL), 18
- 5. Jacob Kraft C (Rochester, N.Y./Kent Prep School), 19
- 7. Braden Fischer C/LW (Winnipeg, Manitoba/Virden Oil Capitals), 19
- 7. J.J. Wiesbusch F (River Falls, Wis./Madison Edgewood HS), 18
- 8. Joseph Schiller D (Moorhead, Minn./Moorhead HS), 17
- 9. Ryan O’Connell RW (Moorestown, N.J./Mount St. Charles Academy), 18
- 10. Sam Scopa G (Lexington, Mass./Belmont Hill Prep School), 17
- 11. Landan Resendes RW (Hudson, Mass./Cushing Academy Prep School), 16
- 12. Ryan Philbrick D (Concord, N.H./Cushing Academy Prep School), 17
- 13. Dylan Hunt D (Marlborough, Mass./Milton Academy Prep School), 16
- 14. Ryan Friedman LW (North Merrick, N.Y./Long Island Gulls U18), 18
- 15. Trey Jefferis F (Philadelphia, Pa./Philadelphia Jr. Flyers 16U), 16
- 16. Ethan Gonyeau D (Flower Mound, Texas/Dallas Stars Elite 16U), 15
- 17. Riley Bassen C (Frisco, Texas/Dallas Stars Elite 16U), 17
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