Wilderness select 13 players in draft


June 23, 2023

The Minnesota Wilderness drafted 13 players and added another through a trade in the 2023 NAHL Draft held last week.

The new additions include one goaltender, seven forwards and six defensemen. Eleven of those acquired hail from the USA, while the team also brought in one each from Switzerland, Latvia, and Canada.

Goaltender Loris Uberti from Martigny, Switzerland, became the Wilderness’ first pick when he was selected 14th overall in the first round. The Wilderness acquired that pick from Anchorage due to a trade completed last February. At just 18 years old, Uberti is going into his fourth season of junior hockey and has spent his entire career playing in his home country, a team news release said.

The Wilderness followed the Uberti pick by making a deal with Minot to acquire the Minotauros’ third pick in the draft — Latvian forward Peteris Purmalis — who was selected in the second round at 52nd overall. Purmalis is 20 years old and is committed to play in the NCAA with Lake Superior State. He began his junior career with Sioux City of the United States Hockey League in 2021-22, when the coaching staff included newly hired Wilderness head coach Colten St. Clair.

Purmalis represented Team Latvia in the last three World Junior Championships, playing alongside current Wilderness defenseman Gustavs Ozolins in two of those tournaments.

The June 14 draft marked the first major event involving St. Clair, who was named head coach earlier this month following the departure of Brett Skinner to the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League.

“First, I would like to thank the staff for all their hard work in preparing for this draft,” St. Clair said. “The overall depth and type of players we selected were specific to the type of winning hockey we want to play. Just being able to get a brief look at what our group could potentially shape out to be makes me very excited to get the upcoming season started.”

Each player selected in the draft will be invited to participate in the Wilderness’ main tryout camp scheduled for July 17-20 with the location to be determined. They’ll be joined by six other newcomers Minnesota has already tendered, veterans protected from the 2022-23 roster and others invited through pre-draft camps held over the last few weeks in Trenton, Michigan, Hudson, Wisconsin, and Las Vegas.

The NAHL 2023-24 season is expected to begin in September.


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