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Crusaders Hit For The Cycle in 2023 Entry Draft -

When the draft came, the Crusaders had visions on restocking the prospect cupboard with quality and depth.  That also came with a cost.  Moving out quality prospect Kent Johnson for the 9th, 54th and 64th pick in the draft wasn't an easy move, but one necessary to achieve the goal.

"I like Kent, but we feel like Ryan is a comparable prospect.  Their numbers are relatively similar in their first year in the NCAA, and as of this moment Leonard is leading the nation in goals by a freshman.  Currently he's the Hockey East player of the month.  We couldn't be more ecstatic picking him at 9th overall. When we were talking to Rich, (Black Frost GM) about the deal, it was condusive to having one of our main targets there.  When the top 6 shook out the way it did, we knew we were getting a player we wanted, and Leonard was at the top of the list.  Then it was just coming to a deal that worked."

With their own pick at 18th overall, the Crusaders had a very wide board.  Ultimately they took budding power forward Quentin Musty.  "There was a lot of debate at the table.  We were pretty surprised to see Honzek and Barlow jump that high, but we looked at the BPA at 18, and we twisted and turned between a few players.  We like Olli Moore but his offense is still not taking off.  Some of our scouts really like the start that ASP (Axel Sandin Pellikka) has had in Europe, but we have Jiricek and Hutson on the blueline coming.  So consensus we took something that is tough to find.  A big guy with a deft touch that can put the puck in the net.  Musty is that guy.  He is 1st in PPG as a D+1 in the OHL.  He is going to be a player."

With their own 2nd pick the draft the Crusaders went a little off the board by selecting Hunter Brzustewicz from the OHL Kitchener Rangers.  "We heard lots of rumblings on the floor about guys liking Hunter.  Oddly of all the players in the draft, there are a few you really want to come away with.  We had him ranked in the early 30s, a late first round guy.  And with his start to the season, we couldn't wait.  It was the acquistion of the extra 2nd and 3rd that allowed us to make this pick, knowing we had some selections coming. Hunter leads the entire OHL in Defenseman points by 10.  He is on pace for 112 points, as a defenseman.  If you wait, you chance someone scooping up a player you really want, so we didn't wait."

The targets just kept coming, and with the 2nd round coming to a close, the Crusaders were prepared to chance waiting until 54 to make their next selection.  "Some insider knowledge again.  We felt that Fowler was the guy we were going to take with our next pick.  It really wasn't a doubt.  But our head scout was having a cheeseburger at the concession, and overheard a guy talking about a guy with USHL pedigree that was almost certainly going to go in the next few picks.  Truly we felt that if we didn't end up with this player, it would have been a tremendous loss.  I called Paul (Knights GM) and offered him my yacht for the weekend and a 2nd next year for number 51.  He said he hates water but would do me a solid.  Paul's a gem of a guy, so we snapped up Jacob.  We are thrilled."

With the second pick acquired in the Johnson deal, the Crusaders added OHL Sniper Nick Lardis.  "We have liked Nick for a long time.  He is fast, great shot, and has that compete.  And he is on pace for 50 in the OHL.  That can't be discounted."

With the final pick acquired in the Johnson deal, the Crusaders decided to hedge their bets in net.  Pick 64 was used to select USHL goaltender Hampton Slukynsky.  "Between Hunter and Hampton we obviously decided to pick players with impossible to spell last names.  Hampton is developing at an unbelievable rate.  He’s 9-0-0 through 10 games and owns a 1.53 GAA and .927 save percentage, both of which are the best among USHL goaltenders. He’s also recorded a league-leading three shutouts this season and posted back-to-back goose eggs last weekend, which earned him USHL Goalie of the Week honors."


In total the Crusaders selected 7 Forwards, 4 Defensemen and 2 Goaltenders.  They included 7 Americans, 6 Canadians and 0 Europeans.

CRUSADERS 2023 Draft Selections


Crusaders (Black Frost)

Ryan Leonard







Quentin Musty






Crusaders (Revolution)

Bradly Nadeau







Hunter Brzustewicz






Crusaders (Jaguars)

Jacob Fowler






Crusaders (Revolution)

Nick Lardis






Crusaders (Black Frost)

Hampton Slukynsky







Rodwin Dionicio







Austin Roest






Crusaders (Mounties)

Paul Fischer







Hudson Malinoski






Crusaders (Revolution)

Aiden Celebrini







Dylan Roobroeck






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Free WiFI added in Stuttgart

With everything these days basically being considered part of the Internet of Things, having free WiFi may be added to the big three (food, shelter and clothing). 

Scouring the talent pool of players still looking to jump into the UHL, there was one very noticable candidate.  Not because of his physical size (6'4" and 230ish pounds), or his brash style of play, but more so because of his family's story and path.   Arber Xhekaj (dubbed WiFi by his teammates, because his name looks like the mashup of letters on the back of home internet routers) is a Canadian defenseman, who comes from the parents of two Canadian refugees.    His mother (Czechia) and father (Albania) fled from their homelands during the unrest happening in central Europe in the 1990s, meeting in Canada a few years later. Working at whatever jobs where available and living paycheck to paycheck they scraped up enough money to sign up their two boys to participate in Canada's national past time.

It was a no brainer to sign Xhekaj to a UFA deal.  His talent is one thing but his character is what sold the Bisons staff on inking the hulking defenseman.

So when you all come to visit Stuttgart for a game, or a holiday.  You're' welcome, there is now free WiFi.

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Crusaders Cruise on Draft Day

GM Bachul was having a tough time after being caught in traffic on the way to the draft.  A well "timed" delay got him to the church on time, with expectations of a good draft based on where Chicago ws draft.  It didn't disappoint.

PICK 3 - David Jiricek.

"We weren't expecting pick 2 to go the way it did.  Gauthier is a great player but we were shocked.  So shocked that we didn't consider switching our pick to Logan Cooley who we had ranked in a dead heat almost with Jiricek.  We went with the guy we wanted and stuck to the plan."  

What Jiricek is doing in the AHL is truly historic. He just turned 19 in November. Counting the assist he collected Saturday night, he has a line of 5-16-21 in just 26 games.

Jiricek’s 0.81 points/game is tops in the AHL for rookie defensemen. Again he’s just 19 and having this kind of performance. U-20 players at this stage don’t just go into one of the best leagues in the world and impose himself like he is. This is a season for the ages and there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played.

PICK 13 - Jimmy Snuggerud.

"We honestly had Lane Hutson rated here as well, but sometimes it is a gamble.  Where will my guy go and can I wait and get better value.  

Scouts call Snuggerud’s shot a missile.

“It’s different; it’s just different,” One scout says. “We’ve got film of a couple of goals where, when you break it down, how he’s getting it, there’s no way it should be getting off that way.

“It’s how he shoots, and where he shoots from. He doesn’t have to have it in the right spot. It’s just an uncanny, high-level, different shot than you’re going to see from most hockey players.”

PICK 31 - VIA TRADE - Lane Hutson

"You start to get the feeling.  Where is my guy going to go?  It has been a while since 13 and you either make get bold or someone else will." Dan Vladar was moved out to the Black Frost to acquire pick 31 and a 5th with a couple other prospects.  "This is a player we are very happy to get."

It’s been quite the year for Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson, as his historic freshman year in the NCAA has been nothing short of impressive.

The transition to the NCAA could not have gone smoother for Hutson, who used all the scrutiny on his game and his lack of size as fuel to take his game up a notch.

He knew what was waiting for him in the NCAA this season with Boston University and worked incredibly hard over the summer to improve his explosiveness and speed of execution; but he didn’t stop there.

What’s made him much more effective this year has been identifying open space on the ice and aggressively attacking it, thus creating more time and space for himself to make plays.

“I’ve been able to transition pucks really quickly and generate a lot of my offence off the rush,” said Hutson regarding his historically impressive offensive production in his freshman year. “I’ve worked on finding and attacking pockets of open space. When I see open space, I attack it now and try to make a play. It’s worked well for my team so far.”

PICK 41- Reid Schafer

"Had a great opportunity at the WJC.  Excited to see a first round quality prospect fall to 41."

The Spruce Grove product is coming off his first full season in the WHL where he recorded 32 goals and 58 points in 66 regular-season games before posting an additional 21 points in 25 playoff games as the Thunderbirds were defeated in the WHL Final by the Edmonton Oil Kings.

The 18-year-old left-shot left-winger stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 214 pounds.

Pick 115 - Noah Laba

"Noah we had much higher rated.  He was a guy we had in the 70-80 range. The Colorado College kid just gets better and better"

“The NCHC is the best league in college hockey, and the coaching staff here does everything they can to develop you and get you ready for the next level,” Laba said.

CC coach Kristofer Mayotte added, “We have this gorgeous rink; we have all this opportunity. We need people who are going to take advantage of these opportunities, and Noah’s a great example of that.”

Pick -125 Mathew Maggio

"He was just named OHL player of the week.  He is just ripping up the league and have high hopes for this kid."  


Leading the Spitfires to a perfect 3-0 showing last week, Maggio got things started with a pair of goals and an assist as Windsor defeated the Soo Greyhounds 7-4 on Thursday. Maggio's success continued on Saturday with another three-point showing (2-1-3) in a 6-3 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Maggio extended his point streak to 12 games on Sunday, recording a goal and four assists as the Spitfires closed out the weekend with a high-scoring 8-1 win over the Owen Sound Attack. His performance on Sunday saw him reach the 100 career assist plateau, giving him 185 points (85-100-185) in 192 regular season games.

A 20-year-old native of Tecumseh, Ont., Maggio leads the OHL with 40 goals, 39 assists and 79 points (40-39-79) in 46 games this season. Helping Windsor win a Western Conference title, Maggio was a fifth round (142nd overall) pick of the New York Islanders this past summer following 38 goals, 47 assists and 85 points in 66 regular season games in 2021-22. The 6-foot, 185lb. forward was originally Ottawa's fifth round (86th overall) pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection from the Sun County Panthers U16 program.

PICK 146 - Dominic James

"American kid is on the Hobey Baker short list."

James is another overager forward, this time coming out of Minnesota-Duluth. He’s not known for his offensive production — he put up just 18 points (6 G, 12 A) in 39 NCAA games at the age of 20 — but he’s touted as having a strong work ethic and above-average defensive prowess. James is especially effective on the penalty kill and his ability to apply physicality in the defensive zone in a highly effective manner. It was his strong showing in his own end that likely earned him a surprise roster spot on Team USA at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship (that tournament was unfortunately cancelled). James will likely return to UMD for his sophomore season.

PICK 153 - Adam Gajan

"We weren't sure of the rule and got clarification.  This could be the steal of the draft.  He went from nobody to one of the best goalies at the WJC. "

Scouts I talked to at the World Junior Championship fell in love with Gajan, who many believed to be a diamond in the rough. Gajan went undrafted out of the Slovak league last year but made some noise in the NAHL and USHL before joining Slovakia as the team’s third goalie to begin. Before too long, he was the No. 1, giving fits to teams like Canada and USA. Gajan doesn’t have a major sample size, which probably knocks him down a bit, but he has great size, excellent athleticism and seems to only get better with more viewings.

PICK 181 Luke Mittlestadt

"Same as Gajan.  When we knew he was avaiable we had to take him."

What hockey fans can expect to see from Luke is a smooth-skating, two-way defender who excels at moving the puck or carrying it out of the defensive zone to start an offensive attack. He seems to be a composed young man who knows what he wants – the end goal being the UHL– and knows what it takes to get there.


"Overall we are absolutely ecstatic about how the draft panned out.  We got offense, size, two way play and a couple stud dman and a potential starting goalie.  It was an A+ in my books.  I guess I better take the scouting staff for beers." -GM George Bachul

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Draft Day Confessions

One always has a perfect scenario in mind when approaching a situation, and when that comes to be, fabulous!   Hardly is it ever that way, so you have to be ready to recalculate, reassess and react accordingly.

Such was the 2022 Amateur Draft for the Stuttgart Bisons.  In my head, as Im sure many of us have done.  We plot out that we're going to take X at 1 and Y at 2 and so on.   It looks and feels great on paper.  Then, there's that inevitable smack of reality.   After a 4-5 year layoff, of not only Sim hockey, but literally any consumption of hockey at all, I was excited jumping back into the mix.   I did a little research, patted myself on the back for thinking yeah Im going to nab this guy in Round 1 and then sneak up on everyone in Round 2 earlier than he was picked, and it'll all be grand.

Ahhh, reality.   I was pretty pumped as it got within 3 picks of my first selection in Round 1.  It was pick #9, so in theory there's not a ton of work to do here.  A little comparison north and south, make sure someone doesn't suck and then if there's a tie, you go with the kind of player you like.   Kasper!   Love that all around game!  Sort of like Patrice Bergeron.  Not overly great but really good everywhere. He'll be a great entry back into the fray.   Yeah. He got picked #8, one pick prior to becoming the glorious return I had envisioned.   Fuuuuccccck!  (I swear a lot, so I apologize in advance).   I had penciled in three players at this slot, my guy got sniped one pick prior and my number three got picked before that.  Not fully researching every one, I guess I take the other dude.   Hey, welcome to Stuttgart Mr. Mintyukov.

First round sadness wanes as I think, all the while knowing the GMs I remember and interacted with are far more intuned to things than I am, Im soooooo stealing this dude in Round 2.   Though I had a might of scare, as I had passed along my draft just in case some crazy event forced me to be unavailable, and I saw of flurry of pick trade queries.  I knew in my head, there's no way Im stealing this dude from anyone, but stubborn is as stubborn is and I kept the dream alive. Six picks to do it ,five, Im so close!    That fear, waning, those trade queries were what my paranoia thought they were for.   Equally as awful as hearing that player's name announced you are craving, is the commissioner's voice tolling out "We have a trade to announce".   Double fuuccccck!    A few seconds later, the dream of snagging Lane Hutson was crushed, four picks before.   Being a half full person, it was one pick the last time, this one was four.  Life is getting better!

I honestly did little to no research other than those two players, and was totally dismayed.  I did like Josh Filmon whom went in Round 6 in the NHL, and I ended up picking him in Round 3 to ensure I got someone I put effort into.     It was super fun to be back in the fray, having that anticipation, and then having to scramble to make on the spot decisions.   On paper, I think the Bisons drated well, but I assure you I thought the same every time I picked for the Great Whites in the past and usually the picks sucked.   

For a recap.  Everyone's a gamble, they all score a bunch, that can't be bad.  Can it


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Major transaction for the Chicago Crusaders and an important signing.


The Chicago Crusaders made a major trade sending Dylan Larkin and a 2022 3rd round pick and receive Chandler Stephenson and a 2022 first round pick.

General manager Mickael Lajeunesse is very satisfied with this transaction Stephenson is a complete player in both directions of the rink. We also got our hands on a first round pick which will be excellent for our organization in the future.

We have also signed the coveted player Ondrej Palat as a free agent, he will be an important asset for our team.

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