by Arch Ecker

The NAHL held its annual Entry Draft on Wednesday, and the Topeka RoadRunners selected five players, and tendered another pair of players by pulling off a late trade with the expansion Amarillo franchise.

According to, \”A tender is a contract, of sorts, a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted eight (8) tenders – plus or minus any trades – which become active on Nov. 1. Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft.\” 

Not having any tenders left to offer but with two players that Head Coach Scott Langer and his staff felt strongly about acquiring, Langer worked a deal with Amarillo sending the expansion team three of Topeka\’s draft picks in exchange for two unused tenders.  On Monday, the tenders were signed by forward Matthew Lucchese and defenseman Joe Van Antwerp. \”We have had both of these players in our sights, and in our discussions felt they would be a good fit for our program. Having no tenders left, we were then at risk of having these young men drafted elsewhere and we were able to work a deal with Amarillo that worked out well for all involved\”, said Langer. Assistant Coach R.J. Enga talked about the two last-minute signings. \”Matthew Lucchese (pronounced loo-KAY-zee) is a high flying forward that can play either wing position, and most importantly, he\’s a finisher. He scores goals.\” Regarding Van Antwerp, \”He\’s a big, rangy defenseman with size and strength. He moves the puck well and is a presence on the ice.\” Van Antwerp was recognized by the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association by being named to the states Division II \”Dream Team\”. Also named to the same team is RoadRunners 2010-11 draft pick Billy Coole. (For the record, current RoadRunners Justin Kovacs and Eric Rohrkemper were named to the MHSHCA Division I \”Dream Team\”.)  

Here are the five players that were drafted on Wednesday, along with scouting notes:

Scott Snyder – Forward (Culver Academy)  \”Excellent speed, finds the holes, good timing, sees ice well.\”

Logan Smith – Forward (Colorado Thunderbirds U18) \”Huge, long reach, plays body, very big upside. Skates well and good hands for big guy.\”

Billy Coole – Forward (DeLaSalle High School) \”Excellent skill, good vision and can finish with size.\”

Dominick Bellevia – Forward – US Chicago Mission U18  \”Quick, good speed, good forechecker, plays body well, and good puck mover, plays in all 3 zones.\”

Luke Hernandez – Goalie – Jr. Kings T1 Major \”Solid technical goaltender, plays angles well, makes good first save and recovers quickly.\”

It\’s worth noting that being drafted or signing a tender is not an ironclad guarantee of a roster spot. For that matter, returning veterans are subject to the same tryout process as everyone else. The RoadRunners are hosting two more open tryout camps for undrafted hopefuls. \”Every year, our camp yields a few surprises. If a player shows he has the aptitude and the qualities we desire, we\’ll find a spot for him\”, said Langer. \”By the same token, if a player shows up not ready to work, then he\’s basically cut himself.\”