NHL Draft: UMass hockey’s Scott Morrow, Josh Lopina, Ryan Ufko & Taylor Makar picked

  • UMass hockey commit Scott Morrow, who attended Shattuck St. Mary's last season. was selected 40th overall in the NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. COURTESY UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/24/2021 12:33:27 PM

Incoming freshman defenseman Scott Morrow became the earliest UMass hockey draft pick since Cale Makar when the Carolina Hurricanes selected the Shattuck St. Mary’s product 40th overall Saturday.

Makar, who signed an extension with the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, was the fourth overall pick in 2017. This is the fifth year in a row a UMass player has been selected in the NHL Draft. Four Minutemen were selected Saturday, tying 2005 for the most UMass picks in the modern draft era (seven rounds). Five Minutemen were selected in 1994 when there were 12 rounds.

“Today proved to be another banner day for UMass hockey at the NHL Draft,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said in a release. “One of our many goals is to develop our players and move them on to the NHL. Today's four draft picks all have the ability to play at that level. I look forward to pushing each of them to help them find their full potential.”

Morrow said he only spoke with the Hurricanes once prior to the draft.

“I’m pumped I’m a Carolina Hurricane, I can’t believe it,” Morrow said. “Based on their track record, they’ve got it figured out in terms of how to develop defensemen.”

Morrow is UMass’ third second-round pick, joining Mario Ferraro in 2017 and Brandon Montour in 2004. The Darien, Conn. native had 48 points with 40 assists in 30 games last season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

“It all starts with me being a good skater. I have a lot of skill with the puck, and I try to be offensive,” Morrow said. “I can run a power play, be on the penalty kill, play in any situation.”

He could have played in the USHL instead of high school but decided to stay at Shattuck St. Mary’s, where his three siblings also attend.

“There was a lot of uncertainty this year with COVID, and my family wanted to be on the safer side of things,” Morrow said.

He attended the World Junior Summer Showcase this weekend in Plymouth, Mich., but spent the previous two weeks in Amherst becoming acclimated to UMass’ facilities and culture. Due to NHL rules, players can be drafted and still play in the NCAA. The teams retain their rights for the duration of their eligibility.

“I’m really liking it out there, super great to be joining the culture there, it’s kind of No. 1,” Morrow said of UMass. “I think I can bring a lot of things, and hopefully we can go back to back and I can win a national championship, too.”

Rising sophomore forward Josh Lopina was a key member of that national championship squad, and he was the second Minuteman off the board when the Anaheim Ducks took him with the second pick in the fourth round, 98th overall. He was at home with his family watching the draft on television.

“We were all off doing other things not paying a ton of attention when someone said, ‘hey Josh that’s you,’ and we all went crazy,” Lopina said. “Anaheim’s a great spot, it’s a great organization.”

The Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Year tallied 23 points on nine goals in 29 games. He had two game-winning goals and won 54.5 percent of his face offs. Lopina, from Minooka, Ill., is the fifth Minuteman in the past four years to be drafted after his freshman season following Matthew Kessel last year, Marc Del Gaizo and Filip Lindberg in 2019 and Amherst native John Leonard in 2018.

“There’s nothing but the tools I need to succeed at UMass. Everyone has my best interests at heart. They push me past my limits,” Lopina said. “It’s a good place to be, a good place to grow.” 

The Nashville Predators selected incoming UMass freshman Ryan Ufko with the 115th overall pick, No. 19 in the fourth round. He was a first-team USHL All-Star last season with the Chicago Steel and won the league’s Clark Cup championship.

He’ll join fellow Minuteman blue liner Marc Del Gaizo in the Predators system. Del Gaizo signed his pro deal in April after being selected in the 2019 draft.

Ufko also attended the World Juniors Summer Showcase with Morrow.

The Colorado Avalanche rounded out UMass’ draft day when they picked commit Taylor Makar in the seventh round, No. 220 overall. Just like his older brother Cale, Taylor Makar played for the Brooks Bandits before coming to UMass and being drafted by Colorado prior to his freshman season.

“He’s come a long way,” Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said of Taylor Makar.

He tallied 19 points in 16 games as a forward for Brooks last season.

Earlier in the day, Cale Makar said he was more nervous for Taylor Makar than on his own draft day.

“He’s just a very hard working kid,” Cale Makar said. “I compare him to a Josh Anderson but with the pestiness of one of the Tkachuk brothers.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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