The disappointment only drove White Lake’s Ronnie Attard harder.
First eligible for the NHL Draft in 2017, Attard was bypassed that year and then again in 2018, but his dream of being selected was finally realized Saturday.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound defenseman was taken by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft, which was held in Vancouver, with the 72nd pick overall.
“That’s something you always work for after being passed over twice in the draft,” said the 20-year-old Attard, who is set to attend Western Michigan in the fall. “That’s something I approached (last) summer in my game and said this is something I need to do and I’ve dreamed of as a kid and the hard work finally paid off.”
Attard hit the training room and was on the ice every day last summer and responded with 30 goals and 65 points along with a plus 47 rating in 48 games for Tri-City.
He was named USA Hockey Junior player of the year after breaking the United States Hockey League scoring record for defensemen.
“It feels good,” said Attard, who previously played for Detroit Honeybaked and Victory Honda. “I would say I’m a little bit more mature than these younger kids taken in the draft, but either way there’s still a lot of hard work to put in.”
The U.S. National Team Development Program continued to pump out prospects on Saturday’s second day of the draft. After having a team-record eight players taken in the first round Friday, five straight defensemen were taken from the program Saturday and nine more players overall to bring the team’s total selections to 17.
Six-foot-5, 198-pound Alex Vlasic went to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round with the 43rd pick overall and teammate Drew Hellenson was taken by the Colorado Avalanche with the 47th pick overall, while Domenick Fensore went to the Carolina Hurricanes with the 90th pick overall in the third round.
In the fourth round, defensemen Henry Thrun went to the Anaheim Ducks with the 101st pick and Case McCarthy went to the New Jersey Devils with the 118th pick, while center Owen Lindmark went to the Florida Panthers in the fifth round with the 137th pick overall, and forward Judd Caulfield went to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the same round with the 145th pick overall. Forward Patrick Moynihan was taken by New Jersey in the sixth round with the 158th pick overall and defenseman Marshall Warren also went in that round to Minnesota with the 166th pick overall.
Forward Egor Afanasyev left his home in Russia at the age of 15 in 2016 to chase his dream of playing in the NHL and landed in Detroit with the Little Caesars U16 program. He gave credit in part to former NHLer Brain Rolston, who was his head coach that first year with Little Caesars and is now the program’s director of amateur hockey, for his second-round selection by the Nashville Predators with the 45th pick overall.
“Brian Rolston’s a Stanley Cup champion and played (17) years in the NHL,” said the 18-year-old Afanasyev, who still trains in Farmington Hills and played for Muskegon in the USHL. “He helped me so much to feel that North American style and I feel so comfortable.”
The OHL’s Flint Firebirds had defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok taken in the second round by the Florida Panthers with the 52nd pick overall, while teammate Ethan Keppen went to the Vancouver Canucks in the fourth round with the 122nd pick overall.
Northville’s Nick Robertson, who played in the OHL for Peterborough, was taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round with the 53rd pick overall. Another Little Caesars’ product, he had 55 points in 54 OHL games last season for Peterborough and is the younger brother of Jason Robertson, who was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2017.
Defenseman Mason Millman was one of three players from the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit drafted. Millman went to Philadelphia in the fourth round with the 103rd overall pick, while forward Nicholas Porco was taken by Dallas in the fifth round with the 142nd pick overall, and forward Cole Coskey went to the New York Islanders in the seventh round with the 209th pick overall.
Defenseman Hunter Skinner, who is from Pinckney and played for Lincoln in the USHL last season, was selected by the New York Rangers in the fourth round with the 112th pick overall.
In the fifth round, Brighton goalie Logan Neaton, who played in British Columbia Hockey League last season, was taken by the Winnipeg Jets with the 144th pick while Oak Park center Josh Nodler, at Michigan State commitment who played for Fargo in the USHL, went to Calgary with the 150th pick overall.
Jim Parker is a freelance writer.