The newest batch of Austin Bruins were chosen on Tuesday as Steve Howard and his staff made eight selections in the 2017 NAHL Entry Draft. With their first-round pick (5th overall), the Bruins selected forward Reggie Millette from the Compuware organization. They used their next three picks on Michigan born players Matthew Eller (defenseman), Grant Baetsen (forward), and Justin Brandt (forward).
“I think we got a lot of the players we wanted to get,” said Howard. “There were a couple that fell off the board early we had on our list but for the most part we got the guys we wanted, especially in the first few rounds. We’re excited about the team we’re building.”
Millette, who is a 2000-born forward from Jacksonville, FL, played the ’16-17 season with Compuware’s U16 Division, where he served as captain. His prior two seasons were spent with the Victory Honda AAA program. He weighs in at 6’0, 163 pounds and was chosen in the 18th round of the USHL Phase II draft by the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
“Everybody’s going to notice him right away,” said Howard. “He can skate and he’s a hard, hard F1 (forechecker). He’s a pest to play against.”
Howard added that when watching Millette at Muskegon’s camp, all eyes were on him.
“We had a couple colleges say ‘wait ‘til you see Reggie.’ And he came on in the second game right away you notice the guy. As soon as I saw him I started doing some digging and talking to Muskegon on him and they wanted to make sure he was playing Junior hockey this year somewhere and what better a place than Austin?”
All in all, the Bruins took four players from Michigan (plus Millette who spent extensive time there). Howard says he’s looking for a mix of backgrounds to make up his team.
“There are a lot of those kids that already have Junior experience that are from [Michigan], he said “It’s one of those things where a lot of those kids left home at 16 to start playing Juniors. When we talked to a few of them it was to add a bit of veteran leadership with the kids we already have. We’re excited for them to come in and have that mix of Minnesota, Michigan, and various places on a team because I’m a firm believer that that formula wins. It’s fun to mix and match and watch that chemistry happen.”
Here are full breakdowns on the seven players chosen after Millette.
Matthew Eller, chosen in the 2nd round, 28th overall, is a ’97 defenseman from Detroit, MI who is 6’2, 185 lbs. After two seasons with Belle Tire, Eller played 56 games in the CCHL with Hawkesbury Hawks, chipping in one goal and 14 assists.
In round three, with the 51st overall selection, the Bruins chose Grant Baetsen, a forward from Grand Rapids, MI who has played the last two seasons in the SJHL with the Nipawin Hawks. The 20-year-old (’97 birthyear) had 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 58 games in 2016-17, ranking him sixth on the team. From 2011-14, Baetsen was in the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies organization. He then played with the Iowa Wild AAA team in 2014-15, getting a taste of the NAHL that season, suiting up in one game with the Wichita Falls Wildcats. Batesen is 6’1, 174 pounds.
With the 98th overall pick in round five, the Bruins took forward Justin Brandt from Ann Arbor, MI, a 5’7, 165 pound forward coming out of the Syracuse Stars USPHL Premier program. Brandt has been a part of four NAHL organizations, playing games with the Janesville Jets, Springfield Jr. Blues, Brookings Blizzard, and Northeast Generals since the 2014-15 season. Brandt’s first NAHL goal came against the Bruins on January 23rd, 2016 in Larson Ice Center – a 6-1 Brookings win over Austin. The ’98 birthyear also played for Victory Honda and Little Caesar’s in his career.
Benito Posa, chosen in round 7 (145th overall), is a ’99-born forward from Grand Blanc, MI who is 6’1, 170 lbs. He played in the USPHL with the Tri-City IceHawks and NAPHL with the Meijer AAA program before suiting up in one NA3HL game this past season with the West Michigan Wolves – a game in which he registered two assists.
The Bruins selected Canadian-born forward Ryan Mahshie in the eighth round, at pick #168. Out of the Ridley College program in St. Catherines, ON, Mahshie stands at 6’3, 198 pounds.
In the 9th round, the Bruins chose Nashville, TN native Jay Powell, who is 6’6, 200 lbs. The ’97-born defenseman spent four years in the Westminster Prep organization, where he was a solid, stay at home d-man.
With their final pick in round ten at 214th overall, the Bruins selected a second Canadian: high-scoring forward Christophe Tellier from the Iowa Wild AAA program and Sherbrooke, QC. He’s 5’11, 160 lbs.