Uecker selected in NA3HL draft, has more goals ahead

SLEEPY EYE – Austin Uecker said that he was not surprised when he was drafted by the Helena, Montana BigHorns of the North American Tier III Hockey League on April 24.

Uecker said he was in touch with the team the night before the draft.

“We talked about what my plans were and how they run their facility and program,” Uecker said. “They told me of their practice plans and workout plans — things like that. They told me that if they have a chance to get me, they were going to draft me.”

The all-time leading points scorer at New Ulm High School with 204 points went to Helena in the second round — the 69th pick overall.

“I was really happy that someone actually watched me and wanted me,” he said.

Uecker, a senior at Sleepy Eye Public High School, said he texted his high school coach Ryan Neuman and assistant coach Cody Kohn before the draft.

“Coach Neuman said that that is a start and if I can’t get to the NAHL by my second year, that I can always go to college.”

While Uecker was happy by being drafted by a NA3HL team, he also has some bigger goals.

“My second thought was, ‘OK, I have a team that did draft me, but now my main focus is to make it in into the NAHL or a better league,'” he said.

He added that if he does not make it on a Tier II team, he most likely will report to Helena.

“I have gotten a couple of invitations from the Wisconsin Windigo (NAHL) and also I have been invited to the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Wings also in the NAHL. My plan is to play in the NAHL and then in college.”

While Uecker is currently playing high school baseball for the Indians, he is keeping in hockey shape as much as he can.

“Trying to keep my legs strong and will probably get on the ice in New Ulm,” he said.

Uecker knows that the jump from high school hockey to the world of junior hockey can be big on and off of the ice.

“It will be a big adjustment,” he said. “It will be more games but less per week — they usually play on Fridays and Saturdays and they practice Monday through Thursday each week.”

While the game and practice schedules will be an adjustment, Uecker believes that his biggest adjustment will be off of the ice.

“Being away from home and my family and friends — meeting new people,” he said. “But I am excited — I just want to show myself that I can play in these leagues.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today