Alex Bonito was the Jr. Blues first pick in the 2011 NAHL entry draft.
May 26, 2010
SPRINGFIELD – Ryan Hardy's first NAHL Entry Draft as the head coach of the Springfield Jr. Blues came and went on Thursday, but not without making a big splash from a place close to his New England roots. After a series of trades orchestrated by Hardy and Associate Head Coach, Joe Dibble, the Blues selected two former Neponset Valley River Rats, Alexander Bonito, a '93 forward, and Christian Cordier, a '92 defenseman, with their only selections in the draft. "I had highlighted Alex and Chris the moment I took the job here in Springfield, said Hardy. "To be honest, if we had the 1st and 2nd overall picks in the draft, we would have selected the same two players."
Neponset Valley, a Tier 1 Midget program in Massachussetts, and the Blues hope this is a connection that will produce results in 2011 and beyond.
The River Rats have produced countless D1 and NHL players in the last decade. River Rats Head Coach, Jon Hutcheon, a good friend of Hardy, said of his club, "We try and create an atmosphere for our guys where they get the most exposure in a short amount of time. Our guys know that there are going to be scouts in the building everytime we play."
Hardy has as much respect for the River Rats' head coach as he does for the Rats program. "Hutch is a great hockey guy and he knows talent," Hardy stated. "I had the opportunity to watch the Rats, specifically Christian and Alex half a dozen times last fall" he continued. "I know they, and any player who comes through Neponset Valley, can come in here and make an impact right away."
According to Hutcheon, the Blues got two gems in the draft. "Alex is a solid two way forward – great in all three zones," Hutcheon noted. "He can score and dish the puck really well but he always works hard on the backcheck," he continued. "He has pretty good hands and possesses very good playmaking ability." When looking at the Blues selection on the backend, Christian Cordier, Hutcheon was equally complimentary. "Christian is one of the best skating defenseman in this age group. He's very good one on one defensively and moves the puck quickly and effeciently out of his on end."
Following the Fall midget season, Bonito and Cordier played for their schools in the New England Prep School league, with South Kent (CT) and the Berkshire School (MA), respectively.
Prior to the NAHL Draft beginning, each team had an opportunity to select a player from the NA3HL and Hardy went with Ryan Hogland from the St. Louis Jr. Blues. "I had the pleasure of coaching Hogland at the Monster Showcase in St. Louis earlier in the spring," said Hardy. "He is a good skater and possesses a nice set of hands, but it is his character which set him apart and made our selection easy." Hogland, a '92 forward, was nearly a point per game player this past season for St. Louis with an 18-24-42 line in 45 games.
'Springy' fans will have an opportunity to get a look at the three newest Blues at Main Camp from July 8-10, 2011. Main camp will take place at the home of the Springfield Jr. Blues, the Nelson Center in Lincoln Park.
This article includes information compiled by members of the Springfield Jr. Blues press staff.