By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
If recruiting draft picks is the mark of programs at the top, then two days in Pittsburgh show that UNO hockey is still on the rise. At the 2012 NHL Draft on June 22 and 23, the Mavs had three players drafted and now have eight draftees on the roster.
Anthony Stolarz, a goaltender from Jackson, N.J., was selected in the second round, 45th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. Brian Cooper, a defenseman out of Anchorage, Alaska, was taken in the fifth round, 127th overall, by the Anaheim Ducks.
But maybe most surprising of all was the selection of sophomore defenseman Jaycob Megna.
When the name Megna comes to mind, most fans think of his brother Jayson.
Forward Jayson Megna had a breakout freshman season, scoring 13 goals and adding 18 assists for 31 points, the third highest total on the team. Although both of the Megnas are sophomores, Jayson is two years older than Jaycob and two years older than being draft eligible.
Jaycob Megna doesn’t turn 20 until December of this year. Despite not having the same kinds of numbers his brother does, what Jaycob Megna has is NHL size.
At 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, Jaycob Megna has the kind of stature NHL clubs covet for on their blue line. He’s also show the ability to be a quick study.
Megna went from being an A student at Mona Shores High School near Muskegon, Mich. to achieving the same marks in his first year at UNO. He also went from playing 55 games for the Lumberjacks to suiting up in all of the Mavs’ games except for three.
Megna joins seniors Brent Gwidt and Bryce Aneloski and sophomore Josh Archibald as current members of the team who have been drafted. Gwidt was chosen by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round of 2006, Aneloski was taken by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round of 2010 and Archibald was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round last year.
The drafts of Stolarz and Cooper means the Mavs will have four freshman draft picks coming to campus in the fall. In addition to Stolarz and Cooper, UNO will also get Tanner Lane out of Detroit Lakes, Minn. and Nick Seeler from Eden Prairie Minn.
Lane was taken by the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, in the sixth round of 2010, while Seeler was a fifth round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2011.
Stolarz and Cooper, the Mavs’ newest freshman selections come to campus well accomplished.
Stolarz played last season with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the North American Hockey League.
In 49 games, Stolarz went 22-23-4 with a 2.84 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and earned three shutouts. Stolarz was ranked the fourth-best goaltender by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. At 6-foot-5, Stolarz is a goaltender who’s hard to miss.
“Anthony Stolarz is a 6-foot-5 200 pound goaltender who carries himself with a presence,” Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting, said in a profile on Stolarz for NHL Network. “He’s got the ability to utilize that size asset, to play big in the net. Next year he’s gonna improve his game by playing at the University of Nebraska Omaha.”
Stolarz went from 21st on the NHL’s midseason draft rankings to fourth by the time the draft arrived. Marr described Stolarz as a goalie who plays with an aggressive, competitive style and says he reminds scouts of Mike Smith of Phoenix Coyotes and Ben Bishop of the Ottawa Senators.
Cooper has played the last two years for the Fargo Force of the USHL. Last season Cooper scored six goals and assisted on 18 others for 24 points.
For the second year in a row, Cooper was named to the All-USHL Second Team and was the USHL’s Scholar-Athlete Award Winner. It was also the second season in a row that Cooper played for Team USA in Under 19 World Junior A Challenge.
Cooper was invited to the NHL Draft Combine and was ranked 68th for North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.