South Deerfield’s Kaz Sobieski selected by Sioux Falls in USHL Draft

  • South Deerfield’s Kaz Sobieski was selected by the Sioux Falls Stampede in the fifth round of the USHL Draft earlier this week. The 16-year-old attends Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn. CONTRIBUTED

Staff Writer
Published: 5/11/2020 4:15:40 PM

The next portion of Kaz Sobieski’s hockey career is coming into focus.

The 16-year-old South Deerfield native was selected by the Sioux Falls Stampede in the fifth round of the United States Hockey League (USHL) Draft last week. Sobieski was the 67th pick overall of the Phase I Draft, held for “Futures” age players only, which are U-17 players for next year’s season (2004 birth year players only).

“I knew I was going to get drafted in the first phase but we didn’t really know where,” Sobieski said. “Somewhere between the second and fifth round. Teams had me ranked pretty high, but I ended up going a little lower than I was hoping. It’s not where I wanted to go but I did wind up with probably the best organization that I could’ve went to. They have great facilities and the atmosphere for hockey is awesome.”

The USHL is considered the top junior ice hockey league sanctioned by USA Hockey. The league consists of 16 teams located throughout the Midwest for players between the ages of 16 and 21. The league is strictly amateur, which allows players to continue on and compete in college hockey afterward.

Sobieski was watching the draft live in his living room with his family at home in South Deerfield when his name was called.

“I was definitely honored to be drafted by such a strong organization,” he said. “Just to see your name come up, that was really cool. I got a call from the assistant coach at Sioux Falls to let me know as well.”

Sobieski recently wrapped up his second year attending the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota. The hockey program there boasts alumni like NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, and in last year’s NHL Draft, five of the top 76 players selected had attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s. That included 14th overall pick Cam York.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s has five teams in its boys hockey program. Sobieski, a 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman, played for the U15 team this past season, as he only turned 16 last month. The U15 team posted a 38-6-2 record, and Sobieski scored six goals and dished out 13 assists as a top-pair blue liner.

“I think my game is starting to develop much more. I think I’m just getting started,” he said. “Last year (as a freshman) I was one of the bottom two defensemen but I think this year, I came through as the most reliable as a top two. Over the summer and this past year, I definitely took big steps forward.”

Sobieski will attend camp with Sioux Falls in late July, and he said he’ll see where things go from there. His plan is to return to Shattuck-St. Mary’s for another year, but if he makes the team in South Dakota, that could be subject to change.

The Stampede are the reigning Clark Cup champions, and they play home games in the 10,678-seat Denny Sanford Premier Center — the largest arena in the USHL.

“The plan is to play there one or two years but that depends when I go,” Sobieski said of Sioux Falls. “If I make the team this year and decided to go, it’d probably be two or three years. Then the plan is to go on and play college hockey.”

College coaches have already been in contact with Sobieski, though the NCAA changed its recruiting rule for the sport last year, delaying the timeline for prospects to be contacted or offered scholarships.

He said he’s enjoyed the competitiveness that Shattuck-St. Mary’s has provided, and is continuing to grow into his spot along the blue line.

“I think as a defenseman, that’s certainly a position that’s right for me,” he said. “The vision’s super important and that’s one of my strongest aspects. Many players struggle with that, the ability to change the pace of the game. But I like controlling everything, being the quarterback when you’re out there. I like having that control, creating plays for the forwards to go score.”

Sobieski, who went to Shattuck-St. Mary’s after attending Eaglebrook School, said his days at school are hockey-focused, and the team stays on a very regimented schedule. He skates in the morning before class, and the team practices in the middle of the day between classes. After schooling ends for the day, he works out and stays at the rink for awhile before heading back to his room for homework and lights out.

“It’s certainly a different experience than I was used to before coming here,” said Sobieski, who enrolled in the fall of 2018 and played on the U14 team his freshman year in Minnesota. “The coaching is great out there. Being around the guys all day, having classes, it’s really preparing you for college — both in hockey and in the classroom.”

School is winding down for Sobieski, who said he has a few weeks left of online classes before his summer break officially gets underway. He’s working out five or six times a week in preparation for the summer camp with the Stampede, while patiently waiting for rinks to reopen so he can get some skating in. When that does happen, he’ll be working out at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield.

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