About the 2017-18 NLI Signees

SAULT STE. MARIE — Lake Superior State has been rather busy during the spring signing period.

Nine players were signed during the signing period, which began on April 12th.  Of those nine, five were inked the first day, with the other four signing over the course of the next few days.

Here is how the signings break down, including the lone signing from the fall period:

Forwards: 7
Defense: 3

J20 SuperElit: 1

U.S.: 3 (Mich x2, Wisconsin)
Canada: 3 (BC, Ontario, Quebec)
Sweden: 2
France: 1
Slovakia: 1


Dustin Manz / Forward / 5-10 / 194lbs/ Vanderbilt, Mich. / Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL)

Taking a look at the forwards, two Americans, Dustin Manz and Spencer DenBeste, were among those who signed.  Both Manz and DenBeste hail from Michigan — DenBeste from Marquette and Manz from Vanderbilt (about 45 minutes south of the Mackinac Bridge).

Manz spent the 2017-18 season with Prince George of the BCHL.  There, he had 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points in 58 games.  The previous season saw him in the NAHL.

This past season, Manz’ Spruce Kings finished atop the Mainland Divsion.  From there, they went on a run to the BCHL Finals, where they ultimately fell to Wenatchee, who moved on to the Doyle Cup.

Spencer DenBeste / Forward / 6-0 / 185lbs / Marquette, Mich. / Springfield Junior Blues (NAHL)
DenBeste is in his second season in the NAHL.  With the Springfield Jr. Blues, DenBeste had 6 goals and 3 assists for 9 points in 27 games.  Hockey fans around Sault Ste. Marie may recognize DenBeste for his time with the Soo Indians, where he played two seasons before moving on to the NAHL.

Pierre-Luc Veillette / Forward / 5-10 / 170lbs / Drummondville, Québec / Ottawa Junior Senators (CCHL)

Two more forwards hail from north of the border.  Pierre-Luc Veillette and Jesse Tucker have spent the 2017-18 season in the CCHL and OJHL, respectively.

Viellette averaged better than a point per game (33-32—65) with the Ottawa Jr. Senators, enabling him to be the second highest scorer on the team and the 5th highest scorer in the CCHL.  He is one of three signees born in 1997.  The Junior Sens capped off CCHL play with a win over the Carleton Place Canadians en route to winning the league’s Bogart Cup and a spot in the Fred Page Cup tournament.

Following the regular season, Viellette was named to the league’s All Star Third Team.

Jesse Tucker / Forward / 5-11 / 175lbs / Longlac, Ontario / North York Junior Rangers (OJHL)
Tucker, who was selected with the 231st pick in the 2016 Ontario Hockey League draft (12th round), averaged just under a point per game, as he had 17 goals and 33 assists for 50 points in 52 games.  For his efforts, Tucker was invited to the CJHL Top Prospects Game, held in January of 2018 in Mississauga, Ontario.

Tucker has a twin brother, Tyler, who is currently signed with the OHL’s Barrie Colts.  Born in 2000, Tucker is the youngest signee of the period.

The final three forwards all come from Europe — a growing trend for the Lakers in recent years.  Two were born in 1998 while the third is a 1997 birth year.

Louis Boudon / Forward / 5-11 / 165lbs / Grenoble, France / Northeast Generals (NAHL)

Louis Boudon, a Frenchman, signed with Lake Superior partway thru this past season with the Northeast Generals of the NAHL.  As a member of the club from Attleboro, Massachusetts, Boudon was, like Tucker, just under a point per game (17 goals and 32 assists in 51 games).   During this past year, he also played for his native France in the Under-20 World Junior Championships.  In five games, he had four points (2-2—4), as France took fourth place in Division I, Group A.

Miroslav Mucha / Forward / 6-1 / 197lbs / Bytca, Slovakia / Minot Minotauros (NAHL)
From Eastern Europe, Miroslav Mucha has spent the last two seasons in the NAHL with the Minot Minotauros.  He improved upon his 2016-17 campaign (2-10—12 in 47 games) with a 30 goal and 25 assist showing in 2017-18.

Melvin Karlsson / Forward / 6-2 / 195lbs / Angelholm, Sweden / Rögle BK (J20 Superelit)

Finally, there is Melvin Karlsson, the first of two Swedes signed during the period.  Karlsson is the first signee under Whitten, and maybe the first Laker signee since joining the NCAA, that has not yet played junior hockey in North America.  Instead, he has played in the Swedish SuperElit League.

Rounding out the signees are three defensemen.  The three blue liners are a bit of a mixed bag, as they range from 5’9” up to 6’3”, and hail from Canada, the U.S. and Sweden.

Mitchell Oliver / Defense / 6-0 / 195lbs / Kelowna, British Columbia / Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL)
The oldest of the group, Mitchell Oliver, has completed his fourth season in the BCHL.  After having spent the past few years with the Vernon Vipers (plus a partial season in the Alberta League), he donned an “A” with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs this past season, where he racked up 12 goals and 27 assists in 54 games.

Jacob Nordqvist / Defense / 5-9 / 180lbs / Gothenburg, Sweden/ Madison Capitols and Fargo Force (USHL)

Next down the list age-wise is Jacob Nordqvist.  A Swede, he spent the past couple of years in the Swedish SuperElit League like Karlsson.  2017-18 saw him jump to the USHL, where he split the season with the Fargo Force and the Madison Capitols.  With his time divided between the two teams, Nordqvist tallied 3 goals and 11 assists during the season.
Alec Semandel / Defense / 6-3 / 200 / Waunakee, Wisc. / Janesville Jets (NAHL)

Rounding out the signees is Alec Semandel.  A native of Waunakee, Wisconsin, he has spent the last two seasons with the NAHL’s Janesville Jets.  His 17 points on the season (4 goals, 13 assists) matched up perfectly with his +17, placing him second among team defensemen.  Semandel has been a part of a very successful Jets team, who last season claimed a division title, a conference title and was a semi-finalist for the Robertson Cup, the cup awarded to the NAHL playoff champion.  As of this writing, Semandel’s Jets are continuing their push through the playoffs in a second round matchup with defending Robertson Cup champs Fairbanks.

While it is unclear when each player will join the Lakers, the 1997 birth year players (Mucha, Veillette and Oliver) will have to come in this season to avoid losing any years of eligibility.  It is conceivable that any player could come in next year, depending on many factors, including roster needs, readiness of the player and more.