Kearney, NE. – The Tri-City Storm organization continues to break records ahead of its 20th anniversary season at the Viaero Center in Kearney. This weekend at the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, a record number of Storm players were drafted by NHL member clubs. Shane Pinto, Zac Jones, Ronnie Attard, Isaiah Saville, and Mike Koster were all part of Tri-City’s record setting 2019 NHL Draft class. The Storm broke a team record for most active players drafted in a single draft and tied the Sioux Falls Stampede for most players drafted from a single junior team at this year’s draft. No team playing a full schedule in any junior hockey league in the world can claim more NHL draft selections than this year’s Anderson Cup Champion Tri-City Storm team.
Shane Pinto, 18, of Franklin Square, New York became the 38th player in Tri-City Storm history to be selected at the NHL Draft, and he also became the 1st player in organization history to be drafted by Ottawa, when the Senators selected Pinto 32nd Overall in the 2nd Round of this year’s NHL Draft. Pinto was the first Storm player selected in this year’s draft, and the first player selected in the 2nd Round of the Draft. Pinto also became the 3rd highest draft selection in Tri-City Storm history (Jaden Schwartz, 14th Overall in 2010, Patrick White 25th Overall in 2007) with Ottawa’s 32nd overall selection. Pinto was acquired by the Storm in a trade with Lincoln Stars on January 23rd and netted eleven goals in the regular season following the transaction. He finished the regular season with twenty-eight goals in fifty-six games played. Pinto finished the season as one of the Storm’s three players to produce over a point per game. He also recorded thirty-one assists and was Tri-City’s top post season performer with four goals and five assists in the 2019 Clark Cup Playoffs. He was named to the USHL’s All-Rookie team at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season. Pinto previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at the University of North Dakota.
“I was fortunate to have my family and friends there with me to hear my name called by the Ottawa Senators. I just tried to take it all in, it’s once in a lifetime experience. Development camp has been good, everyone has been really welcoming, and I’ve learned a lot. The coaching staff at Tri-City made it fun to come to the rink every day, I definitely grew a lot this season as a player and a person, and I’m excited for what’s next.” - Shane Pinto
Zac Jones, 18, of Glen Allen, Virginia became the first player in Tri-City Storm history to be selected by the New York Rangers when he was selected 68th overall in the 3rd Round of this year’s NHL Draft. Jones was the 2018-2019 USHL Rookie of the Year after scoring seven goals and recording forty-five assists during the regular season. He was Tri-City’s 3rd overall selection in the 2018 USHL Phase II draft. Jones was the 39th player in Storm history to be drafted at the NHL Draft, and the 7th to be selected in the 3rd Round. Jones was named USHL Defenseman of the Week on December 31st. He tied a team record for most assists in a single game by a defenseman (four) and most points by a defenseman in a single game (four) on March 22nd in a 4-3 overtime win over Dubuque. His forty-five assists as a defenseman shattered a team record previously held by Mattias Goransson (thirty-four). Jones’ forty-five assists led all defenseman in the USHL this season. His twenty-five power play assists during the 2018-2019 season also broke a team record previously held by 2019 Stanley Cup Champion Jaden Schwartz. He was a member of the Gold Medal winning Team USA squad at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge. Jones previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“There is no way to describe how I felt when I heard my name called at the draft by the New York Rangers. Getting drafted is something I’ve worked for my whole life, and I can’t put into words how happy I am. It was great to have my family with me, they have sacrificed a lot for me, so I was happy to be able to share that experience with them. I’m going to school next month, and I plan on working hard this summer to get prepared for college hockey.” - Zac Jones
Ronnie Attard, 20, of White Lake, Michigan became the 3rd Tri-City Storm player drafted in the 2019 NHL Draft and the 40thdraft selection in the history of the Storm organization when he was selected 72nd overall in the 3rd Round by the Philadelphia Flyers. He joined Bernd Bruckler, Chris Zarb, and Wade Allison as former Storm players selected by the Philadelphia Flyers at the NHL Draft. Only the St. Louis Blues (five) have selected more Tri-City Storm players at the NHL Draft than Philadelphia. Attard was named Captain of the Tri-City Storm on November 16th, 2018 and was the only player on this year’s Anderson Cup Championship team to play three years for Tri-City. Attard was named USHL Defenseman of the Week on four occasions during the 2018-2019 regular season and picked up USHL Defenseman of the Year and USHL Player of the Year honors following the Storm’s Anderson Cup Championship season. Attard had a historic year this season for the Tri-City Storm, a season that is widely regarded as the greatest single season by a defenseman in the history of the USHL. Attard’s thirty goals scored this season were the most goals scored by a defenseman in USHL history. He became the first Storm defenseman to score four goals in a single game on February 8th in a 7-0 Storm win at the Viaero Center over the Green Bay Gamblers. Dallas Stars forward Joel L’Esperance is the only other player in Tri-City Storm history to net four goals in a single game. His sixty-five regular season points were the most by a defenseman in team history, and his plus/minus rating of +47 was the highest of any player in the USHL this season. Attard also served as the Captain of the Gold Medal winning Team USA squad at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge. In total, Attard appeared in over 150 games during his three-year career for Tri-City. His forty-one career goals and eighty-four career points are both team records for Tri-City Storm defensemen. Attard previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at Western Michigan University.
“Getting drafted is something I dreamt of as a kid, and it really didn’t sink in until the day after that I had been drafted. The draft was an awesome experience for me, and my first impressions are that Philadelphia is a top-notch organization. Kearney is always going to hold a special place in my heart, Coach Noreen is the best coach I’ve ever played for, and my time with the Storm is something that I will cherish forever.”- Ronnie Attard
Isaiah Saville, 18, of Anchorage, Alaska became the first player in team history to be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, and the 41st player in Storm history to be selected at the NHL Draft with the Golden Knight’s 135th overall selection in the 5th Round of the 2019 NHL Draft. Saville also became the 6th goaltender in Storm history to be selected in the NHL Draft. Saville was acquired by the Storm in a draft day trade with the Madison Capitols during Phase II of the 2018 USHL Draft. He was named the 2018-2019 USHL Goaltender of the Year following a sensational regular season that included twenty-five wins and four shutouts. He joined Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) goaltender Filip Larsson as the only other player in Storm history to win the award. Saville finished the 2018-2019 regular season with a record of 25-4-2-1, a save percentage of .925%, and a league leading goals against average of 1.90. He finished the season as the only goaltender in the USHL to have a goals against average of less than two goals per game. Three times during the regular season, Saville was named the USHL’s Goaltender of the Week. Saville won a Gold Medal at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge. He posted a twenty-five save shutout over Russia in the Gold Medal game and was named Player of the Game for Team USA. Saville previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
“I was at my uncle’s house with friends and family when I found out I had been drafted by Vegas. My advisor called to congratulate me, and it was great to be able to celebrate that moment with friends and family. The Golden Knights development camp has been great so far, we’ve done a few seminars, some physical testing, and community service. This year was the best year of my life, not just in hockey, but my living experience in Kearney, my interactions with the fan base, everything about it was great. It was great to give myself the opportunity to get drafted, I wouldn’t have wanted to play anywhere else, and I was fortunate to make the relationships that I did this year with my teammates.” – Isaiah Saville
Mike Koster, 18, of Chaska, Minnesota was selected 146th overall in the 5th Round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the selection, Koster became the 42nd player in the Storm’s history to be selected in the NHL Draft, and the 1st in team history to be drafted by the thirteen-time Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs. Koster was the Storm’s 2nd overall selection in the 2017 USHL Phase I draft and scored two goals and recorded four assists during fifteen regular season games with the Storm during the 2018-2019 regular season. Prior to joining the Storm this season, Koster served as the Captain of Chaska High School for the 2nd consecutive season. Koster netted nineteen goals and registered forty assists in twenty-four regular season goals for the Hawks this year. He skated for Team USA in the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and recorded two assists in five games. In April, Koster was named to the 2018-2019 All-USA High School Hockey 1st Team. previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota.
“We had a viewing party at my house with my family and friends, I got the call from Toronto shortly before seeing my name on the TV. The Maple Leafs organization gives you a lot of good tools to succeed, and I’ve been able to learn a lot from the guys already. I plan on training five days a week this summer, work on getting stronger and quicker, and continue to develop my skills and my speed before returning to Kearney for preseason camp.” – Mike Koster
“I think for all of our organization’s accomplishment’s this season, having a record number of players selected at the NHL Draft was a great way to cap off a historic season. For us to have five players selected in a single draft, that says a ton about our organization from to top to bottom. From the resources we were given by Kirk Brooks, to the work put in by Steve Lowe behind the scenes, to the job that our coaching staff did, all of it made an accomplishment such as this possible. This record also reflects highly of the USHL and the type of people who we have in our organization. I would rank our development model right up there with anybody’s.
The NHL did a great job of seating our draft picks close to each other at the draft, it was cool to see them celebrate with not only their friends and families but also their teammates. I always say, for hockey parents, its so much different than other sports. The amount of time and sacrifices they make, from driving them to the rink, taking them on road trips, paying all the fees and equipment costs associated with playing, there’s so much effort that goes into it, so it’s a great feeling to see them get to enjoy that moment with their son.” – GM/Head Coach Anthony Noreen
The 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver marked the 16th NHL Draft where a Storm player has been selected by an NHL member club. This year’s draft also extended a six-year streak where a current Storm player or an alumnus of the Tri-City Storm organization has been selected at the NHL Draft. The NHL recently announced that the 2020 NHL Draft will take place June 26th-27th, 2020 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec and will be hosted by the twenty-four-time Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens.