Michigan Warriors building for the future

By Stefan Kubus - 

The Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League wrapped up their selections at the NAHL Entry Draft a few weeks ago, selecting five forwards and three defenders.

Jake Hopfner, an Eastpointe native, went sixth overall in the draft to the Warriors. Hopfner most recently suited up in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) for the Leamington Flyers.

“Jake is a real talent that we’d been watching for quite a while,” Warriors Director of Scouting Tom Boileau said.

Moe Mantha, 12-year NHL veteran and coach of the Warriors, said he was pleased with the drafted group and looks forward to a competitive training camp in the fall.

“The young men we drafts are talented hockey players with great character who are hungry for an opportunity to show off their skills in front of college scouts,” said Mantha. “We’re returning a good group from last season, so they know they’ll need to work hard to earn a spot on the roster. We expect some fierce competition that will help us put a great product on the ice for our fans this fall.”

Seven of the eight draftees hail from Michigan. In addition to Hopfner, the Warriors selected defensemen Ben Israel (Bloomfield Hills), Zach O’Hara (West Bloomfield), and Robert Click (Stillwater, Minn.). Israel and O’Hara played together last season for the Honeybaked U18 squad.

Up front, the Warriors chose Colin Horton (Grosse Ile), Parker Wood (Rochester), Connor Lyons (Clarkston), and Nicholas Laburn (Northville). Horton, Wood, and Laburn all skated on the same side for the Little Caesars U18 team, rivaling their fellow defensemen draftees in the Tier 1 league. Lyons played for the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL).

This latest batch of Warrior draftees joins a club who has housed several notable players that will suit up for NCAA Division I programs this fall, including Michigan natives Justin Hoomaian (Michigan State), Michael Szuma (University of Michigan), Michael Tadazak (Army), and A.J. White (UMass Lowell).