Amarillo, Texas — The Amarillo Bulls received some good news today when it was announced that Head Coach Rocky Russo will be behind the bench for the South Division at next month’s North American Hockey League’s Top Prospect event at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Ma.
Russo has guided the Bulls to the best record in the South Division of 27-5-2-2 for 58 points. The best record by a Bulls franchise since the 2013-14 season.
It was also announced today that the Bulls will be able to send four players to the Top Prospects event. Those names will be announced by next Friday, Feb. 1.
The number of players each NAHL team is sending to the tournament, in which four teams from the four NAHL divisions: Central, East, Midwest and South and two NAHL Selects teams, will each play in two game games, was based on each team’s winning percentage within their group as of January 22, 2019. Each team is comprised of 18 players (10 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goalies).
Russo will be joined on the bench by Ryan Cruthers of the Corpus Christi IceRays that will also get to send four players. The Shreveport Mudbugs and Lone Star Brahmas will each send three, and the Topeka Pilots and Odessa Jackalopes will each send two.
The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament is one of the most highly-scouted events in junior hockey. Last season, over 220 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. It continues to be an important part of the NAHL event model, which includes the NAHL Showcase in September and the NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship in May.
One of the things the NAHL does better than any other junior league is seeing their players earn an NCAA opportunity while playing and being showcased in the NAHL. To date, 162 players have already made NCAA Division I commitments during the 2018-19 season. The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament plays a big role in that success, with over half of the players who played in last year’s Top Prospects Tournament, earning an NCAA Division I opportunity following their participation in the event. The event continues to provide the hundreds of NHL and NCAA scouts in attendance with a look at the best uncommitted players the NAHL has to offer, as well as, some potential NHL Draft picks.
For the Central Division roster, the Aberdeen Wings and Austin Bruins will each send four players, the Minnesota Wilderness and Minot Minotauros will each send three, and the Bismarck Bobcats and Brookings Blizzard will each send two. The head coach of the Central team will be Scott Langer from the Aberdeen Wings and the assistant coach will be Steve Howard from the Austin Bruins.
For the East Division roster, the Johnstown Tomahawks and Jamestown Rebels will each send four players, the New Jersey Titans and Northeast Generals will each send three, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Maryland Black Bears will each send two. The head coach of the East team will be Mike Letizia from the Johnstown Tomahawks and the assistant coach will be Joe Coombs from the Jamestown Rebels.
In the Midwest Division, the Minnesota Magicians and Fairbanks Ice Dogs will each send four players, the Janesville Jets and Springfield Jr. Blues will each send three, and the Kenai River Brown Bears and Chippewa Steel will each send two. The head coach of the Midwest team will be AJ Bucchino from the Minnesota Magicians and the assistant coach will be Trevor Stewart from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The head coach for the NAHL Selects Red team will be Dave Boitz of the Minnesota Wilderness and the assistant coach will be Marty Murray from the Minot Minotauros. The head coach for the NAHL Selects Blue team will be Corey Leivermann of the Janesville Jets and the assistant coach will be Layne Sedevie of the Bismarck Bobcats.
Below is the schedule from the top prospects:
Monday, February 18th
1:00pm: South Division vs. NAHL Selects Red
4:00pm: Central Division vs. East Division
7:00pm: Midwest Division vs. NAHL Selects Blue
Tuesday, February 19th
10:00am: Central Division vs. NAHL Selects Red
1:00pm: East Division vs. NAHL Selects Blue
4:00pm: Midwest Division vs. South Division