Credit to the Asbury Park Press's Chris Rotolo for the story:
Less than four hours after officially welcoming major junior ice hockey to the Garden State, the New Jersey Titans organization participated in its first North American Hockey League (NAHL) draft on Tuesday.
Over 15 rounds the Titans made 10 picks, including its inaugural first round selection in Joseph Schuler, an 18-year old forward from Webster, NY who was picked 13th overall and delivered 57 points (34g, 23a) for the Buffalo Junior Sabres U18 program in 2014-15.
On Tuesday morning the Titans organizational heads – which includes principal owner Rob Lavin, General Manager and Head Coach Bruno Bragagnolo, and Hockey Director George Haviland – announced its initiative to provide local players an opportunity to continue their development at the NAHL level in their own backyards, and made good on that notion in the ninth round by selecting former CBA standout Anthony Cusanelli 160th overall.
"I've been a Titan for six years now, so to be included in the organization's first NAHL draft is very special to me," said Cusanelli, a 19-year old forward from Holmdel, NJ who has played with the Titans' North American Prospect Hockey League (a feeder league for the NAHL) affiliate for the past four seasons, and has recorded 89 points (56g, 33a) in 70 games over that time.
"When you play hockey you do it with the realization that you'll probably have to travel if you want to move on to a higher level," said Cusanelli, who led the NAPHL in regular season point production (40) and goals (22) in 23 games this past season. "Having opportunity to stay home would be great. But I know it won't be easy. There's still a lot to prove at the Main Camp."
The Titans grabbed another local skater and organizational product 35 picks later, taking former CBA captain Greg Malafronte 195th overall in the 13th round.
"It's a big honor to get picked in the NAHL draft, but getting drafted by the organization I grew up playing my whole youth career with makes it even more special." Malafronte said.
Malafronte, an 18-year old Holmdel native, also starred with the Titans NAPHL affiliate a season ago, finishing seventh in league scoring with 30 points (16g, 14a) in 24 games, while helping to lead his CBA Colts to the program's second consecutive Non-Public State Championship.
"I've known the Titans coaching staff for a while now. I know the time and effort they've put into this organization and me. I hope I can prove myself in camp later this summer and earn my opportunity to play at the next level."
The Titans selected a pair of forwards from the Michigan-based Honeybaked Hockey Club in fourth-rounder Logan Fish and its 15th round selection Garrett Hall. Two more players were chosen from the Philadelphia Junior Flyers club in 10th round goaltender Harrison Feeney and 14th round forward Jake Grebner. A pair of Colorado Thunderbirds skaters were also chosen as Trystan Isenhour was picked in the 11th round and Blake Terry was announced nine picks later in the 12th round. Bell Tire forward Chris Murphy was selected in the eighth and rounds out the Titans 2015 draft class.
The 10 players selected on Tuesday will be among the large group of skaters invited to the Titans Main Camp, which will also include former St. John Vianney standout and tendered contract player Mike Gelatt, who played in 2014-15 for the organization's NAPHL affiliate, and finished third in the league in scoring with 35 points (12g, 23a).
The camp opens on July 31 and runs through August 2 at Middletown Ice World.