Local Sports Journal

The Muskegon Lumberjacks used the United States Hockey League phase one draft Monday to add nine players to their roster.

That number includes five forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.

In the first three rounds, the Jacks selected defenseman Mitch Eliot along with forwards Keeghan Hodeshell and Dante Palecco.

“We are really pleased with the nine players that we selected during the phase one draft as we set our club up very well for the future,” Lumberjacks assistant general manager and assistant coach Rich McKenna said.  “We went into tonight with a plan, and we executed it perfectly.  The future of Muskegon Lumberjacks hockey is very promising and will continue to get better.”

The Lumberjacks opened the draft with the seventh overall pick and tabbed Eliot, a native of Grosse Pointe, with that selection. Eliot signed a USHL tender on April 16.

Eliot spent the previous three seasons from 2011-14 with the Honeybaked midget program. He had 19 points  (9 goals and 20 assists) in 64 games played and is committed to play for Michigan State University following his junior career.  Under the terms of the tender, Eliot is required to play in at least 50 percent of Muskegon’s games during the 2014-15 season.

With their next pick, 11th overall, the Lumberjacks selected Howdeshell, a native of Brighton. In 65 games in the Compuware hockey program, he scored 33 goals and added 30 assists.

To conclude their trio of first-round picks, at 15th overall, Muskegon chose Palecco, a native of Whippany, N.J. Last season, playing for the Long Island Gulls U-16 team, Palecco had 53 points on 34 goals and 19 assists in 24 games. He is committed to Yale following his junior career.

That pick was acquired in a trade with Omaha that sent affiliates Luc Snuggerud and Steven Spinner to the Lancers.

In the second round, the Lumberjacks used the 23rd overall pick on forward Jamie Armstrong (Warwick, Rhode Island).  This past season, Armstrong played for both the Neponset Valley River Rats (Massachusetts) Under-16 Team and Bishop Hendricken (Rhode Island) High School.

With its lone third-round pick at 41st overall, Muskegon landed goaltender Michael Latorella from Macomb. He spent the last two seasons with the Honeybaked program and compiled an 18-2-2 record with a 1.43 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage. The Lumberjacks acquired that spot in the draft in the deal that sent Connor Hurley to Green Bay.

Early in the fourth round (50th overall), Muskegon chose forward Collin Adams from Brighton. He had 17 points in 22 games with Honeybaked. That pick came from Youngstown in a deal that involved Blake Christensen.

In the fifth round, Muskegon picked defenseman Alex Green from Chicago. With the Chicago Mission program, he had 13 points in 43 games over the last two seasons.

In the sixth round (85th overall), Muskegon selected defenseman Dylan Dix (Scotts Valley, California). He spent this past season with the Arizona Bobcats Under-15 AAA Team.  During the 2012-13 season, Dix played for the San Jose Junior Sharks Under-14 AAA Team.

In the seventh round (102nd overall), the Lumberjacks selected forward Casey Gilling (Sault St. Marie) from the Soo Indians Midget Major squad. Gilling registered 48 points (19 goals and 29 assists) in 56 games for the Indians.