Brighton hockey coach Paul Moggach believes individual accolades are a reflection of his team’s accomplishments, which means the Bulldogs were basking in the glow of two of their own being selected in Tuesday’s USHL draft.
Jake Crespi, a Lake Superior State commit who was named Mr. Hockey the past season, was taken in the second round by the Tri-City Storm. Adam Conquest, a junior, was picked in the fifth round by the Des Moines Buccaneers.
Several Brighton natives have played in the USHL, but did not play for the high school team. Moggach believes Crespi and Conquest are the first from his program to be picked in the USHL draft.
“I’m really proud of those two guys,” he said Wednesday from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he is attending a USA Hockey gathering. “I believe in team first, and they believe in team first, and they gave it everything they had. It shows there’s opportunity for anyone who plays for Brighton that there’s a way to get there.”
The key, Moggach said, was exposure to scouts. Crespi had been followed by USHL scouts and some NHL scouts through the season, which gave all of the Bulldogs a chance to be seen.
“I don’t think there was a game where there wasn’t a scout from someplace (in attendance),” Moggach said. “They came to see Jake, and when they did that, they saw Adam.”
Crespi, a senior, will decide soon where he will play in the fall. Players selected can participate in tryouts in June and July, or sign with another junior team. The USHL is considered the top junior league in the U.S. Players in that league can be eligible for college scholarships, where those who go to Canadian junior leagues are not.
Conquest, who joined teammates Logan Neaton, Sam Brennan and Mathew Kahra on Team Michigan in a recent tournament in Minnesota, can return to Brighton next year if he chooses not to play junior hockey.
“We think he’ll be back,” Moggach said. “He had a good year for us, but he feels there are things he needs to accomplish.”