Niagara Gazette — Western New Yorkers were among the prospects selected this week in the United State Hockey League's "Phase II" Entry Draft.
Joe Cecconi of Youngstown was selected by the Green Bay Gamblers with the 70th overall pick. Cecconi, a 6-foot-3 and 185 pound defenseman, skated with the Buffalo Junior Sabres' major midget program in the Tier-1 Elite League last season.
Also selected was Grand Island's Shane Bennett, chosen with the 193rd overall pick by the Waterloo Blackhawks. Bennett, a 5-foot-11 and 180 pound forward, led the Ontario Junior Hockey League's Milton Icehawks in scoring this past season with 45 goals and 42 assists in 54 regular season games. He previously played two seasons for the Jr. Sabres in the OJHL, scoring 42 goals and 49 assists in 97 games from 2010 to 2012.
The USHL is the nation's top junior hockey league and develops elite amateur hockey players for consideration by college hockey programs. Among the dozens of alumni who have gone on to National Hockey League careers is Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek, who played for the Sioux Falls Stampede from 1999 to 2002 before enrolling at the University of Minnesota.