MASON CITY, Iowa – Call it a “soft launch” on the North Iowa Bulls’ tenure in the North American Hockey League.
The Bulls made their first draft selections in team history on Wednesday afternoon, taking part in the NAHL’s 2021 Supplemental Draft. Three players heard their names called to North Iowa for the upcoming season, with each of next season’s 29 NAHL teams allotted three picks plus or minus any trades from the past season.
“You’re trying to take the best players that you can get that fit your game style,” said Bulls head coach and general manager Todd Sanden. “It’s hard in a three-pick draft to load up positionally, so I think you look at the talent level or what you perceive the talent level to be, and you go after the players that fit your program the best. We got three players that absolutely do (that), and if we get them, we’re excited about getting them.”
The Bulls will get another chance to dive into the draft pool on July 14, when the NAHL holds its Entry Draft.
NORTH IOWA SELECTIONS IN THE 2021 NAHL SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT
22nd Overall: Colby Jaquet (D – Winnipeg, MB – Dauphin Kings)
Jaquet will bring valuable experience on the blue line into his final season of junior hockey after playing four previous seasons. The 2001-born defenseman was set to be a leader on the back end for Dauphin in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, but continued COVID impacts north of the border dropped the Kings to just six games in 2020-21. Jaquet picked up an assist a game, appearing in all six Dauphin outings, and boasts 130 games of junior experience with the Kings and the Selkirk Steelers in the MJHL.
43rd Overall: Grant Slukynsky (F – Warroad, MN – Fargo Force)
A forward with tremendous upside, Slukynsky will look to kick his offense up a notch when 2021-22 gets underway, his second full season in junior hockey. The native of a small town legendary for its big-time reputation in the sport, he notched 199 points in three years at Warroad High School, including 101 points as the Warriors’ senior captain in 2019-20. In 55 USHL games with the Fargo Force, however, Slukynsky has totaled five points. The Force swung a draft-day trade last week, sending the Northern Michigan commit to Sioux City. His family lineage in the sport is impressive, with an Olympic gold-medalist cousin (Gigi Marvin) and an entire family tree’s worth of Division I talent.
75th Overall: Michael Mesic (F – Plymouth, MI – Honeybaked 16U)
Michael Mesic’s name may not be familiar to North Iowa hockey fans, but the Mesic family name will become well-known very quickly. Michael’s older brother, Jack Mesic, has become a fan favorite in Amarillo over the last two seasons and still has a couple of seasons of junior eligibility remaining. Like his older brother, Michael is an alumnus of a Who’s Who of elite Detroit-area developmental outfits, including the Little Caesars, Compuware and Honeybaked programs. While the prospect of having to face two Mesics is enough to drive other NAHL teams batty, there is a chance he could land instead with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers next season (who own his USHL playing rights). He could also be back in his hometown of Plymouth, Michigan, after playing four games this past year with the U.S. National Team Development Program’s U17 team.