Three Players with WCHA Ties Taken in NHL Draft

Minnesota State's Stephon Williams was selected 106th by the New York Islanders - Larry Radloff Photography

A Maverick and two Michigan Tech recruits heard their names called on Sunday.

Thanks to next year's conference realignment, the 2013 NHL Draft was a much different experience for the new WCHA. After years of seeing many of their future prospects that were headed to schools like Minnesota, North Dakota, Denver, and Wisconsin drafted early and often in the NHL Draft, the new league didn't have a player selected in the draft in the first 100 picks this year.

The first WCHA player taken was Minnesota State goaltender Stephon Williams, who was selected 106th overall by the New York Islanders. Williams had been passed over twice in the NHL Draft previously, and was in his final year of eligibility, but drew the attention of the Islanders after a terrific freshman season in which he posted a 21-12-2 record with a 2.00 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. Williams was named to the first team All-WCHA team, and was the conference's rookie of the year last year.

Rounding out the WCHA's draft picks were a pair of recruits headed to play for Michigan Tech. Defenseman Dane Birks, who played for the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL last year was selected in the 6th round at 164th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Birks had 5 goals and 15 assists last year, and was named to the BCHL's all-rookie team. Birks is likely to play another year in the BCHL before heading to Houghton.

Another Husky recruit, Tartan(Minnesota) HS forward Jake Jackson was selected in the seventh and final round of the draft with the 201st overall pick by the San Jose Sharks. Jackson was a Mr. Hockey finalist in the state of Minnesota last year, and will play a year in the USHL before joining Michigan Tech.

Bemidji State recruit Brendan Harms was the highest-rated WCHA player coming into the draft at 93rd overall among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, but went unselected.

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