Four Long Island youth hockey players were drafted into the top Junior Hockey leagues in the U.S. and Canada this week.
In the United States Hockey League Futures Draft, Brandon Fortunado (Portledge, L.I. Royals) was taken 14th overall in the first round by the Green Bay Gamblers, Daniel Willett (Locust Valley, N.J. Rockets) was taken 18th overall in the second round by the Lincoln Stars and Corey Hoffman (Syosset, L.I. Gulls) was taken 69th overall in the fifth round by the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Willett and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.J. Rockets) were also selected in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft, with Willett going in the eighth round to the Plymouth Whalers and Hitchcock going in the 12th round to the Brampton Battalion.
Every player drafted was born in 1996.
“It’s a great feeling,” Fortunado said. “It feels like my hard work has paid off. I felt really proud. Green Bay is one of the best teams in the league so I’m really excited to be a part of the organization.”
Fortunado, a defenseman, recently received a verbal commitment to play for Harvard University in 2014, and will play parts of next season and all of the following season for Green Bay before joining the Crimson.
“It’s an honor to be given that opportunity with such a prestigious school such as Harvard,” he said. “I honestly hope to go to the NHL.”
Willett is also a defenseman and has committed to play for Northeastern University in 2014. He will likely play for Lincoln for at least parts of next season and all of the following season before playing for Northeastern.
“It feels great. I kind of know my plans for the next couple of years so it takes the pressure off of me,” Willett said. “I like the team I got drafted to and it’s really exciting for me, and I’m definitely looking forward to playing Division I hockey.”
Hitchcock, a forward, was named the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player this season, and will forgo the OHL for now to join the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan this fall before eventually playing for Yale University in 2014.
Hoffman, a forward, led Syosset in the Nassau County High School Hockey League with a league-record 101 points. He will try out for Sioux Falls this summer but if he doesn’t make the team next year, he’ll play for the Detroit Belle Tire, another under-16 national team that plays in a stronger league than the Long Island Gulls.
“[Playing in the USHL] would definitely be a different experience but it’d be a great step in my life,” Hoffman said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Portledge sophomore Brandon Fusaro received a verbal commitment to play for the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2014.