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12 Jr. Ducks Picked in 2024 NAHL, NCDC Drafts; Nine More Sign Tenders

By Chris Bayee, 06/13/24, 11:30AM PDT


The groups include 15 who played for the club during the 2023-24 season.

The groups include 15 who played for the club during the 2023-24 season.

Junior leagues across North American continue to take notice of the Anaheim Jr. Ducks in 2024. Seven hockey players with ties to the Jr. Ducks were selected in the 2024 NAHL Draft on June 12.

The group included two players who played for the club's USA Hockey Nationals-qualifying 18U AAA team — center Aidan Callahan and forward Carson Castro.

Five more Jr. Ducks who played for the club this past season were taken in the NCDC Draft in May. That group included 18Us Kyle Pisarcik, Aidan Grant and Brayden Hickling. 

The seven NAHL draft picks and five NCDC draft choices gave the Jr. Ducks 27 combined selections between the USHL Phase I and II drafts and the WHL U.S. Priority Draft.

"It's a good footprint for the Jr. Ducks," said Alex Kim, the club's Director of Player Development. "Historically, we've done a good job helping players with that pathway and been a good stepping stone for the next level."

Seven players from the 18U AAA team, including Grant, and two from the 18U AA team signed tenders with various junior teams. 

Jr. Ducks' NAHL Draft Picks

Callahan and Castro were two of the driving forces behind the 18U AAA team's run to the USA Hockey Nationals in April. The Oklahoma Warriors picked both players. 

Callahan was picked in the first round, 20th overall, and had 81 points, including 17 goals, in 77 games. 

"It's really exciting, especially seeing Aidan go in the first round," 18U AAA coach August Aiken said. "It's well deserved for both of them. 

"Aidan is a really good 200-foot counterman who will have a ton of success in juniors. He was a big part of helping us win states and a big part of our winning districts."

Castro, who had 74 points — including 26 goals — in 76 games, went in the 18th round to Oklahoma. 

"Carson is a really good, speedy forward," Aiken added. "He scored some big goals for us down the stretch and made some big plays at states and districts, too."

Both are 2006 birth years.

"Aidan and Carson are really good kids and have been Jr. Ducks for a long time," Kim added. "They were patient and bought into playing with the club through 18s. I'm glad to see them move forward in their careers."

Five more players who previously played for the Jr. Ducks were selected:

Left wing Cade Moxham, a 2004 who played 13U and later 16U for the Jr. Ducks in 2020-21, went in the first round (19th overall) to Aberdeen. He played junior hockey for Olds of the Alberta Junior Hockey League the past two seasons. 

Goalie Stephen Chen, a 2005 who is a Brown commit and played 13U for the Jr. Ducks, went in the third round (84th overall) to Northeast.

Goalie Ryan Denes, a 2007, who played until 13U with the Jr. Ducks, was tabbed by Maryland in the fifth round. 

Forward Isaiah Yates, a 2006 who played for the 16U AAA team last season and earlier played for the San Diego Jr. Gulls, also was picked by Oklahoma in the eighth round.

Center Max Silver, a 2007 who played through 13U with the Jr. Ducks, went in the 10th round to St. Cloud. 

Jr. Ducks' NCDC Picks 

NCDC teams picked five Jr. Ducks in the league's Phase I (Futures) and II drafts. Phase I included 2007-08 birth years, while Phase II included 2004-06 birth years.

Center Riley Schmitz, a 2008 who played for the 15U AAA team, went in the second round (22nd overall) of Phase I to the WBS Knights. Schmitz, who also played for the Jr. Gulls, had 51 points (39 goals) in 81 games.

Forward Brenden Stirbu, a 2007 who was the 16U AAA team's top scorer, with 83 points (33 goals) in 81 games, was picked one round later (37th overall) by Rock Springs.

All three Phase II picks were 2006s who played for the 18U team. They included:

Goaltender Kyle Pisarcik went in the second round (30th overall) to the Northern Cyclones. He appeared in 40 games and had a 1.70 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Those numbers were 2.41 and .911 in Tier 1 Elite Hockey League action.

Forward Aidan Grant went in the third round (37th overall) to Rock Springs. Grant was the team's second-leading scorer with 93 points (52 goals) in 64 games. He signed a tender with Springfield (NAHL). 

Center Brayden Hickling was picked in the fourth round (66th overall) by Casper. He had 27 points (9 goals) in 77 games.

"If you're patient with the process, believe and are diligent, usually good things will happen," Kim said. "The players who got drafted, it didn't just happen, ith's through their hard work. A lot of coaches in the organization worked with those players. It's good to hear different voices and get different guidance."

Nine Jr. Ducks Sign Junior Tenders

In addition to Grant, six more 18Us signed tenders with junior teams. 

Center Brendan Vincent, who amassed 86 points (26 goals) in 71 games, will join Grant in Springfield. 

Leading scorer Kenneth McIlwain, a forward who had team highs of 111 points and 55 goals in 77 games, will join Cowichan Valley of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).

Center Ty Izadi, who scored 81 points (36 goals) in 67 games, signed with Danbury (NAHL).

Goalie Jack Kavetsky, who appeared in 43 games and put up a .929 save percentage and a 1.82 goals-against average and went 5-1-1 with .924 and 2.12 numbers in Tier 1 play, signed with Kenai River (NAHL).

Defenseman Logan Fessenden, who had 25 points in 64 games, signed with Aberdeen (NAHL).

And defenseman Lucas Ananias, who rang up 60 points (22 goals) in 75 games, signed with Casper of the NCDC.

Defenseman Matteo Johnson, a 2005, and goaltender Olivier Caballero, a 2006, signed with the Northern Cyclones' USPHL Premier and Elite teams, respectively. The duo helped the 18U AA team reach Nationals.

Johnson had 19 points (6 goals) in 44 games, while Caballero appeared in 30 games with a 1.96 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.