Kearney, NE. – Five Tri-City Storm players, and one Storm draft pick have been named to NHL Central Scouting’s “Players to Watch” list for the 2020 NHL Draft in Montreal, Quebec. The preliminary list, released earlier this week by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, included 86 players who have appeared in at least one USHL regular season game. The USHL led the world in player’s named to the “Players to Watch” list following a record-breaking year for the league at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. With five players selected in the draft, no junior hockey team in the world could claim more draft picks at this year’s draft than the Tri-City Storm. Mitchell Miller, Colby Ambrosio, Kyle Aucoin, Nick Capone, and Mark Estapa were all named to this year’s list. Additionally, Tri-City’s 4th Round Phase II draft pick from this past year’s USHL Draft, Trey Taylor, was also named to the list. All five of the Storm’s active players named to the list have appeared in the first three games of the team’s 2019-2020 regular season.
Mitchell Miller, 17, of Sylvania, Ohio was the Storm’s highest rated prospect named to the “Players to Watch” list, receiving a “B” rating from the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. A “B” rated skater indicates a 2nd/3rd round candidate for the 2020 NHL Draft. Tri-City has produced a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick at each of the last four NHL Draft’s. Miller was acquired by the Storm on May 31st from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in exchange for draft considerations. Miller skated in 48 games last season with the RoughRiders, scoring 4 goals and registering 12 assists. He scored two goals and recorded one assist in five preseason games played this year with the Storm. Through the first three games of the 2019-2020 regular season, Miller has provided the Tri-City offense with two assists. Miller previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at the University of North Dakota.
Colby Ambrosio, 17, of Welland, Ontario was signed by the Storm to a tender agreement on April 14th, 2018. Last season, Ambrosio appeared in 57 regular season games, scoring 12 goals and recording 12 assists. His 12 goals were the 2nd most scored among returning players from last year’s Anderson Cup Championship team. Ambrosio, Aucoin, Capone, Estapa, and draft pick Taylor, were all given a “C” rating from NHL Central Scouting. A “C” rating on the “Players to Watch” list indicates a player is a candidate for a projected 4th/5th/6th round draft selection. Through the first three games of the regular season, Ambrosio leads the Storm offense in scoring. He has scored two of the team’s three power play goals and has also provided the Tri-City offense with one assist. Ambrosio previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at Boston College.
Kyle Aucoin, 17, of Hinsdale, Illinois was drafted 35th Overall in the 3rd Round of the 2018 USHL Phase I Round draft. As an affiliate list callup, he appeared in seven games last season with the Storm. Aucoin made his regular season USHL debut with the Storm on December 13th, 2018 in a 5-3 Tri-City road win over Lincoln. Aucoin appeared in all six of the Storm’s 2019-2020 preseason games and recorded three assists. Prior to joining Tri-City, Aucoin spent the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons with the Chicago Mission U16 program. He has appeared in all three of the Storm’s regular season games this year. Aucoin previously announced a commitment to play collegiate hockey for Harvard University.
Nick Capone, 17, of New Haven, Connecticut was acquired in a transaction with the Central Illinois Flying Aces on August 6th, 2018. Capone played in five regular season games and two playoff games last year as an affiliate list callup. He scored his 1st Career USHL Goal on March 23rd in his debut with the Storm in a 4-2 Tri-City road win over Dubuque. Capone played four regular season games the previous season with the Central Illinois Flying Aces. Prior to his time in the USHL, Capone skated for Salisbury School Knights in Salisbury, Connecticut. He has appeared in all three of the Storm’s regular season games in the 2019-2020 season. Capone previously announced a commitment to play college hockey at the University of Connecticut.
Mark Estapa, 17, of St. Clair, Michigan was selected 54th Overall in the 4th Round of the 2018 USHL Phase I draft by the Storm. He appeared in one game with the team as an affiliate list callup last season. Estapa made his regular season USHL debut with Tri-City on November 9th, 2018 in a 1-0 Storm road win over the Omaha Lancers. Estapa previously skated for the Little Caesars youth program in Detroit, MI. He has registered more than 50 points in each of his last two seasons with the Little Caesars program. Estapa has appeared in each of the Storm’s first three games of the regular season.
Trey Taylor, 17, of Richmond, British Columbia was drafted 52nd Overall in the 4th Round of this year’s USHL Phase II Draft. Taylor is currently on Tri-City’s affiliate list and in his 2nd season with the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He appeared in 53 regular season games during the 2018-2019 regular season, and 21 postseason games in the Vipers’ runner up finish in the Fred Page Cup Playoffs.
“When you see a list like this, I think it’s a testament to how strong the USHL has become in producing NHL players, and I think its also a testament to the players we’ve been able to draw to Tri-City. With the momentum we’ve built with 5 NHL Draft Picks at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, it shows we have a chance to follow that up again. Now it’s on us as a coaching staff and organization to develop these guys and maybe add another guy or two to the next list” GM/Head Coach Anthony Noreen
In total, the Tri-City Storm organization has produced 42 NHL Draft picks, including 5 selections at last year’s draft in Vancouver. The 2020 NHL Draft will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec June 26th-27th.