By: Denis J. Puska


The 2012-2013 Amarillo Bulls continue to take shape.

The Bulls concluded a very successful NAHL Entry Draft last Thursday and today (Thursday) announced the addition of its tendered players to its roster.


Joining the Bulls are goaltenders: Paul Berrafato (Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL), Chad Catt (Victory Honda, Tier I Elite League), defensemen Cody Rogers (Dallas Stars U18AAA, Tier I Elite League),  Connor Frey (Belle Tire U18AAA, Tier I Elite League), James LaDouce (Lansing Capitals U18AAA, NAPHL); Forwards,  James Bonaguro  (Chicago Mission U18AAA, Tier I Elite League), Vito Aluia  (Belle Tire U18AAA, Tier I Elite League),  Carter Penzien (TPH Thunder U18AAA, Tier I Elite League), Hampus Gustafsson (Gilmour Academy,  Mid West Prep Hockey League), Tyler Gernhofer  (Dallas Stars U18AAA Tier I Elite League), Kyle Plageman (Culver Academy Prep),  Matt Sieckhaus (St. Louis Amateur Blues U18AAA, Tier I Elite League), Joe Vuolo (TPH Thunder U18AAA, Tier I Elite League),  Jasen Fernsler (Lansing Capitals U18AAA, NAPHL), and Alex Carey (North Iowa Bulls, NA3HL).




“I think our scouting staff has done a terrific job of getting out there and identifying what it is that we look for in a player,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “When you look at stats, it doesn’t really give us the whole story. We look for guys that want to battle for pucks and have the hockey knowledge and IQ. We also want them to be good young men and have the aspirations to move on and play at the Division 1 level.”


Bulls’ fans will remember forward Alex Carey who spent the first half of the season with the team. Goaltender Paul Berrafato spent the second half of the season training with the Bulls for this fall. Defensemen Cody Rogers and James LaDouce suited up for the Bulls for several games during the 2011-2012 season. Hampus Gustafsson, who played at Gilmour Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, is the younger brother of former Bulls forward John Gustafsson. LaDouce and forward Jasen Fernsler were selected to the NAPHL All-Academic Team this past season for their excellent work off the ice.


The Bulls season concluded just over a month ago and that gave the coaching staff time to rest and recharge their batteries. Coach Williams said that after some time off he is ready to get back at it.


“I’m thinking about what our main camp is going to be,” he said. “I’m very excited about our returning veterans and what our staff has done to bring in those players who are tendered and drafted, and those who are not. I think we are going to have a nice mix of players. I’m excited to see what it is we will get down to when we have our final team and see them perform at main camp.” 


Here is the complete list of the Bulls Tendered Players:


1. Paul Berrafato

Previous Team: Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Position: Goaltender, Birthdate: June 9, 1993, Height: 6-0, Weight: 178


          Paul appeared in twelve games for the Lumberjacks and posted a record of 5-5 and a 3.29 Goals Against Average and a .889 Save Percentage.

          “Most Bulls fans have already had a chance to meet Paul. He spent the second half of last season skating with us and preparing for the ‘12-‘13 season. He brings much needed experience in the net along with a veteran type of leadership that will be valuable for our young team,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo.


2. Chad Catt

Previous Team: Victory Honda (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Goaltender, Birthdate: Mar 28, 1994, Height: 5-11, Weight: 175


          Chad appeared in 27 games during the 2011-2012 season for Victory Honda. He posted a record of 12-5-9 with a 2.49 Goals Against Average and a .912 Save Percentage.
          “Chad was one of the top goaltenders in the U18AAA league last season," said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. "He is very quick, and moves laterally to make saves with consistency. We expect him to come in and challenge to be our Number 1 goaltender."


3.Cody Rogers

Previous Team: Dallas U18 Stars, (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Defenseman: Birthdate: Jan 02, 1993, Height: 5-11, Weight: 180

Cody Rogers played 40 games for the Dallas U18 Stars where he notched 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points.

“Bulls fans should remember Cody as he played a few games this season for us. He is a steady, smart Defenseman with a heavy shot. He has the ability to not only be a shut down defenseman but also contribute on the offensive side o f the ice,” Russo said.


4.James LaDouce

Previous Team: Lansing Capitals (NAPHL)

Position: Defense, Birthday: Aug 24, 1995, Height: 5-9 Weight: 163


James posted 9 goals and 7 assists for 16 points in 22 games for the Capitals. LaDouce was a teammate of Fernsler with the Capitals and also participated in the NAPHL event at the Top Prospects.

“James is one of two 1995 born players that we secured with a Tender (the other is Tyler Gernhofer)," Russo said. "We watched James in our pre-draft camp the year before and knew he was a young man that we wanted to add to our program. His skill set is excellent. He has a strong shot with a quick release and skates very well. He also plays a physical brand of hockey, stepping up to throw big hits when possible”


5. Connor Frey

Previous Team: Belle Tire U18AAA (Tier 1 Elite League)

Position: Defense, Birthday: June 25, 1993, Height: 5-9 Weight: 193


Connor notched five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 40 games for Belle Tire.

          “Connor is an excellent skating defenseman. He creates offense every time the puck is on his stick,” said Russo. “He also has good awareness in the defensive zone and will be able to compete very well at both ends of the ice. We expect Connor to play in all situations this season.”


6. Alex Carey

Previous Team: North Iowa Bulls (NA3HL)

Position: Forward, Birthday: May 6, 1993, Height: 5-9, Weight: 170


Alex started the season with the Amarillo Bulls where he notched three goals and one assist for four points in 18 games. He played in nine games with the North Iowa Bulls of the NA3HL where he had two points.

          “Bulls fans should remember Alex. He spent the second half of the season with the Bulls affiliate team in North Iowa, but has returned to Amarillo for the ‘12-‘13 season. He is a tireless worker that will do anything to help his team win,” said Russo.


7.James Bonaguro

Previous Team: Chicago Mission U18AAA (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Forward, Birthday: January 20, 1994, Height: 5-10, Weight: 174


In 23 games for the Chicago Mission, Bonaguro had three goals and 17 assists for 20 points.

“James is a skilled center with good vision and playmaking ability. He is reliable in the defensive zone and will be a great addition to our organization,” said Russo.


8.Vito Aluia

Previous Team: Belle Tire U18AAA  (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Forward, Birthday: Feb. 23, 1994, Height: 5-6 Weight: 154


          In 40 games for Belle Tire, Aluia netted 11 goals and added 19 assists for 30 points.

          “Vito was one of the top scorers on the elite Belle Tire U18 team. He is a natural center but has the hockey IQ to move to wing if we need him there,” said Russo.


9.Tyler Gernhofer  

Previous Team: Dallas Stars U18AAA (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Forward, Birthday: Jan. 10, 1995, Height: 5-11, Weight: 195


          Tyler had 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 40 games for the Stars.

          “Tyler will be one of the youngest members of the next Bulls team. He is, however, very experienced, playing two seasons of U18AAA Hockey for the Dallas Stars. He was a top scorer and a versatile power-play threat at the U18 level, and projects to do the same in Amarillo,” said Russo.


10.Kyle Plageman

Previous Team: Culver Academy Prep (NAPHL)

Position: Forward, Birthday: Aug. 11, 1993, Height: 5-11, Weight: 185


          Kyle scored 12 goals and added 34 assists for 46 points 39 games at Culver Academy.

          “Kyle is an extremely smart and responsible hockey player. Committed to Army for the ‘13-‘14 season, he will be joining former Bulls Captain Joe Kozlak and defenseman Luke Jenkins at West Point. Kyle will be able to step in and contribute at both ends of the ice. His father also has ties to Coach Williams as he was a member of the Bowling Green State University Hockey team from 1989-1992, playing alongside former NHL greats Nelson Emerson and Rob Blake,” said Russo.


11.Matt Sieckhaus

Previous Team:St. Louis AAA Blues (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Forward, Birthdate: Jul 31, 1993, Height: 5-9, Weight: 175

          Matt tallied 42 points (18 goals and 24 assists) in 40 games for the St. Louis AAA Blues during the past season.

          “Matt is a C/LW that will bring a tremendous amount of offensive ability," Russo said. "He was a leading scorer in the U18AAA league and has a knack for scoring big goals. He and Draft pick Andrew Dower were very successful for the St. Louis AAA Blues organization, and we hope that will continue here in Amarillo.”


12.Carter Penzien

Previous Team: TPH AAA Thunder (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Forward, Birthdate: Aug 14, 1993, Height: 5-11, Weight: 170

          Carter notched 20 goals and added 15 assists for 35 points in 38 games for the Thunder during the ‘11-‘12 season.

          “Carter is a speedy winger that will bring scoring and skill to help replace some of the young men that have moved on to college," Russo said. "We expect Carter to be an offensive threat every time he touches the ice.”


13.Joseph Vuolo

Previous Team:TPH AAA Thunder (Tier I Elite League)

Position: Forward, Birthdate: Apr 24, 1994, Height: 5-11, Weight: 177


          In 39 games for the Thunder, Vuolo had 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points. He was a teammate of Carter Penzien.

          “Joe is a smooth skating power forward," said Russo. "He plays a physical brand of hockey and never gives up on a loose puck. He plays the exact kind of blue collar style of hockey that the Amarillo fans have grown to appreciate from the Bulls.”


14.Jasen Fernsler

Previous Team: Lansing Capitals (NAPHL)

Position Forward, Birthdate: Jun 21, 1994, Height: 5-11 Weight: 153


          Jasen Fernsler had eight goals and 22 assists for 30 points in 22 games for the Lansing Capitals this past season. Fernsler participated in the NAPHL Top Prospects that took place in conjunction with the Robertson Cup National Championship Tournament in Frisco, TX.

          “Jasen is a very good skater with good hands and foot work," Russo said. "He comes from a program that offers excellent coaching with Dean Dixon and Jay Laing. We are excited to see what Jasen brings to Amarillo in the fall.”


15.Hampus Gustafsson

Previous Team:Gilmour Academy (Cleveland, OH) Midwest Prep Hockey League

Position:Forward, Birthdate: Oct. 26, 1993, Height: 6-3, Weight: 190


          Hampus is the younger brother of John Gustafsson and played for the prestigious Gilmour Academy in Cleveland, Ohio. In 21 games for Gilmour Academy he had 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points.

          “Hampus is a skilled forward like his brother John, however he is center-man and he is quite a bit bigger,” Russo said. “Standing at almost 6’3 he will be a strong presence in the defensive zone and penalty kill, while still providing offensive production.”