NA3HL Northeast Generals rebuild the defense in 2021 NA3HL Draft: Read more about their picks and what’s next

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

This past week, the Northeast Generals turned the page from a very sucessful chapter in their history. The NA3HL team won their divisional playoff bracket to earn a spot in the final four of the league in the Fraser Cup. While the final result does not dim their accomplishment, it serves as a starting point to composing the 2021-2022 group looking to make it back to the Fraser Cup and to win it this time.

General Manager Cory Hunt took some time to talk about his role, the reason behind the two picks he had, and more. He first thanked Bryan Erikson and the Generals for working with him to help him rise up the ranks to be the General Manager of the NA3HL Generals. As he said of Bryan and his belief in him “Bryan has been a great mentor. Coming over from another NAHL & NA3HL team when the Generals announced their NAHL expansion team. Starting 5+ years ago with the NAHL team and eventually moving into the GM role with the NA3 team. I am  one of the biggest champions of the NA3 and what it stands for. He has seen that first hand with the NAHL team with me pushing Sato, Boudon, Gierman, etc., over the years. He has given me the opportunity to grow into this GM role and has put a lot of trust in me. I’m forever grateful of the opportunity. There is something really special here and I’m excited to see how it grows in the coming years.”

As for their two picks this year, defense was the theme. While the NA3HL group is set to lose veterans across its roster to other junior teams or to college, defense was the areas Hunt focused on with their two picks .Gunnar Arason and Lucas Bellig were the two selections. Arason is an Icelandic defender who played in Swedish junior hockey this year. As Hunt said, ” Arason is a player we seen last year playing for the A21 Academy. If not for the pandemic he could’ve been here this season. He is a big body and does everything well. We expect him to come in and make a big impact.” Hunt expects Gunnar to at least be a strong Division three player in two seasons, as he will be playing his last year of junior hockey in the 21-22 campaign.

As for Lucas Bellig, Hunt said ” Bellig I first noticed early in the season playing for North Iowa and continued to monitor when he went back to 18U. He is a smaller player, but so skilled and shifty. Skates well and makes very good decisions with the puck. I think he has a high ceiling and could be a candidate to get games with our NAHL club. Current General Gijs De Schepper played with him and had nothing but great things to say about him as well.”

The NA3HL group this season had a consistent defense corps that drove production and pushed play forward. These picks show the priority of that philosophy once again. As for the roster yet to be built, Hunt was honest and up front. ” For the NA3 team we will bring in 25 or so players. Our philosophy is to bring in the exact amount of players we need. We don’t have any interest bringing in 10-20 extra players only to cut them or trade them. That’s not how we operate.”

With that said, there are still openings in all three groups to join the NA3HL team in an organization dedicated to providing an environment for upward growth on and off the ice. As Hunt said ”

For the summer we will continue to look to finalize our roster with some high end players. We still have a few spots at all 3 positions we would like to shore up. We are looking for players that are committed to getting better and striving to play for our NA team and/or college hockey. Our goal is to win another division title and to finally raise the Fraser Cup. We have some summer opportunities for players to get a look. If players are interested they can contact me directly at cory@northeastgenerals.com

While the summer is just starting, Hunt and his staff are always scouting looking to find the next Generals. The team came together as one and stayed consistent in a turbulent season. The next step for this group is winning a championship, and the draft, combined with the recruiting of the summer will all be in that service.

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