The NAHL conducted its annual Entry Draft on Tuesday, with each of the leagues 24 member teams utilizing the process to bring their Protected List to 30 players. The RoadRunners had three picks available to use and with the support of his recruiting staff and assistant coaches, Head Coach and General Manager Scott Langer maximized the opportunity.

With the team’s first pick (Rd.1, 22nd overall) Topeka selected defenseman Daniel Brickley. A 6’3”, 210 pounder from Sandy, UT, Brickley played for the NAPHL Utah Regulators 18U where he appeared in 20 games before landing with the Hawkesbury Hawks (CCHL), putting up 32 points in 61 games (5g, 27a). He was the top scoring D man on his team, and ranked in the Top 10 in the league.  “Daniel will provide an offensive boost to our team from the back end”, said Langer. “He sees the ice very well and that vision makes him a very effective power play player. He also adds good size to our back end which is very important in the South Division”.

With their second pick (Rd.2, 46th overall), the ‘Runners selected defenseman Tony DeVito from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the OPHL. At 5’11’, 170 lbs, the Bloomington, IL native is hailed as a defense-first kind of player. “He’s a good skater, he’s smart defensively, and makes a good first pass”, Langer noted.  “He keeps it simple, and has an offensive upside. He’s a competitive kid who will bring veteran leadership”. DeVito posted 2 goals and 8 assists from the blue line in 20 games for Buffalo last season.

The RoadRunners final pick of the draft (Rd. 3, 70th overall) was used to select forward Chris Schutz of the WSHL’s Dallas Ice Jets. From Fort Worth, TX and ringing in at 6’0” 185 lbs, Schutz also appeared in 5 games with the NAHL’s Wichita Falls Wildcats. During his time with the Ice Jets, Schutz was an offensive powerhouse. A versatile forward who is comfortable at both center and wing, he led his team with 42 goals and 34 assists for 76 points in just 46 games. “Chris is a very skilled forward that adds speed and skill to our lineup”, Langer declared. “He is a very dedicated athlete that is a good fit for our organization. He’s excited to become a part of the RoadRunner family”. 

The RoadRunners are looking to reload as they defend their South Division Playoff title. Of the 16 players who are age-eligible to return, 2 are moving on to play Division I college hockey (Cody Champagne and Jake Kamrass), and another 2 were drafted by USHL teams (Avni Berisha and Andrew Roye), leaving 12 players. Gone are 6 of the top 10 scorers from last season, along with NAHL Goalie Of The Year PJ Bridges, so the gaps to fill are significant. “I’m very proud of the work our recruiting staff continues to do to find not just high caliber hockey players, but quality young men that fit our culture”, explained Langer. “Anthony Palumbo and Steve Jennings do an incredible job for us, along with (assistants) Josh Kamrass and Anthony Bohn. We wouldn’t be where we are as a franchise without their efforts.”

The bar has been set high in Topeka. With a new banner set to be raised in the Expocentre when the season commences on Sept.12, Topeka will begin anew the quest to claim the leagues ultimate hardware, the Robertson Cup. Since moving to Kansas in 2007, the ‘Runners are averaging better than 40 wins a season with a winning percentage of .736. With a proven track record, an ownership group dedicated to doing things the right way, a Head Coach nearing his 400th career win, and a support staff committed to success, the future looks solid for the RoadRunner organization.