Defenseman and Penn State commit Carter Schade was selected first overall by the Lincoln Stars in the first round of the USHL Futures Draft on Monday night.
The Mars, Pa. native is set to arrive on campus for the 2021-22 season. Current Nittany Lion goaltender Peyton Jones, forward Sam Sternschein and former defenseman Trevor Hamilton all played for the Lincoln Stars prior to their time at Penn State.
Schade verbally committed to Guy Gadowsky and his staff back in 2018 and played the last two seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins' Elite U16 squad. The USHL is the top American developmental league and among the better leagues of similar ilk in North America at-large.
Additionally, Penn State 2022 enrollee Drew Tsakounis was selected sixth overall in the opening round and will play for Sioux City. Current Nittany Lion Paul DeNaples and former captain Tommy Olczyk as well as former netminder Matthew Skoff all played for Sioux City.
Current Penn State commit Jared Westcott also plays for Sioux City and committed to the program back in December of 2018.
Recently graduated defenseman Kevin Kerr was previously the highest drafted Nittany Lion having been selected 7th overall in the 2012 USHL Futures Draft.
While a few lingering commitments remain in the system, the NCAA recently adopted a resolution that no longer allows programs to offer scholarships to a prospect until the summer following their sophomore year of high school (August 1 heading into their junior year is the exact date) and eliminates all recruiting conversations with prospects prior to January 1 of a recruit's sophomore year of high school.
Up until the end of April there had been no prohibitions against a school offering exceptionally young recruits scholarships, or those recruits accepting such an offer. By in large college hockey programs had taken advantage of that, Penn State included as the Nittany Lions added a commitment from Michael Stenberg on April 28th, just prior to the rule taking place. The Massachusetts product is slated to graduate from Thayer Academy in 2023.
The rule has been seen as a positive by nearly all involved, eliminating an often unpleasant recruiting process for prospects and preventing programs from investing in players that may or may not pan out down the road.
For Penn State, it will now wait, and hope that Schade and company remain committed throughout the final few years of their pre-collegiate careers. While other colleges could very well come calling, so too may other professional avenues in a sport not short on choices, leagues and playing time.
Of note, enrollment years are not entirely set in stone. Current forward Denis Smirnov opted to wait a season before enrolling at Penn State to improve his play. Soon-to-be goaltender Liam Souliere was also slated to join Penn State this year but will play one last season in the CCHL.
Nevertheless, Monday night's news was warmly received within the walls of Pegula Ice Arena, another small, but not insignificant first off the board.