Three undrafted free agents make NHL debuts
The USHL continues to prove it is a quality path to help deliver players to the highest level of hockey, and the number of alumni reaching the NHL continues to grow each season. That number increased by three more over the past week as a trio of former USHL players set foot on NHL ice for the first time – Conor Allen (Sioux Falls Stampede, 2009-10), Mike Sislo (Green Bay Gamblers, 2005-07), and Eriah Hayes (Waterloo Black Hawks, 2008-09).
All three were undrafted by NHL teams, but after developing in the USHL and continuing their careers in college hockey, they earned the opportunity to sign NHL contracts.
Just before 2013 expired, Allen was called up by the New York Rangers and made his NHL debut on December 29th. He logged 15:47 minutes of ice time and helped the Rangers earned a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 23-year-old defenseman had been recalled from Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL affiliate of the Rangers, where he has 13 points (5g, 8a) in 29 games this season.
Allen signed a free agent contract with the Rangers in March of 2013 after three college hockey seasons at the University of Massachusetts. He spent the 2009-10 season in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede and collected 15 points (7g, 8a) in 48 regular season games.
USHL stats – Conor Allen
Sislo made his NHL debut on January 3rd for the New Jersey Devils and in 8:29 of ice time, he fired two shots on goal, dished out a hit, and won all three of his faceoffs during a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The 25-year-old forward was one of the top scorers for the Albany Devils, AHL affiliate of New Jersey, at the time of his call-up, recording 20 points (9g, 11a) over 27 games.
Sislo played two seasons in the USHL for the Green Bay Gamblers (2005-07). After scoring just six points in 57 games as a rookie in the League, he broke out offensively with 49 points (23g, 26a) in 60 games during the 2006-07 campaign. He went on to a four-year collegiate career at the University of New Hampshire where he was captain as a senior and ranked tied for 14th in the NCAA with 48 points (15g, 33a) in 39 games. The forward is in his third professional season after signing a NHL contract with the Devils in April 2011.
USHL stats – Mike Sislo
Hayes got his first taste of the NHL on Sunday when he was in the lineup for the San Jose Sharks. He fired two shots on goal in 7:08 of ice time as the Sharks earned a 3-2 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks. The 25-year-old forward had eight points (5g, 3a) in 29 games for the Worcester Sharks, AHL affiliate of San Jose, at the time of his call-up. He made his professional debut with Worcester last spring following his collegiate season and recorded four points (3g, 1a) in seven games. He signed a NHL contract with San Jose in April of 2011.
Hayes was one of the top scorers in the USHL during the 2008-09 when he put up 45 points (27g, 18a) in 60 regular season games for the Waterloo Black Hawks. His 27 goals tied for 11th in the League, five of which were game-winners. He continued his offensive touch during a four-year college hockey career at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he put up 96 points (52g, 44a) in 153 games at the school.
USHL stats – Eriah Hayes
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 12th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2013-14. A record 32 players were chosen in the 2013 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season have committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).
It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.
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