In the 2024 draft, the Nighthawks have acquired River Arnason, Ben Dnes, Ryden Duchon, Carter Kingerski, Danny Cross, and Kellan Sichewski.

Nighthawks Score at 2024 MJHL Draft

Ty Dilello

The Niverville Nighthawks had a busy day on June 2, scoring several key new prospects in the 2024 MJHL draft over the course of eight rounds. In total, the team made six draft picks and auto-protected two local players from Niverville.

It was the first draft for the team’s new general manager, Mike McAulay, who says he was pleased with the result for his club.

The Nighthawks were already active before the day began. Prior to the draft, they completed a trade with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines to acquire forward Sean Williams.

Williams scored 52 points in 57 games last season with Waywayseecappo. He is expected to try out for the Elmira Aviators of the NAHL this fall, and the Nighthawks will be his fallback if it doesn’t work out.

For their first pick, seventh overall, the Nighthawks were very pleased to select forward River Arnason of Winnipeg. Arnason scored 41 points in 22 games last season with the Rink Hockey Academy (RHA) U17 squad.

“We were really happy, as Arnason was our guy,” says McAulay. “We’ve been watching him all year and have been really impressed. He has a high IQ and processes the game well, with a high-end offensive skillset. So he’s going to be a really good junior hockey player for us.”

Not having a pick in the second round, the Nighthawks next grabbed forward Ben Dnes of Winnipeg in the third round. Dnes scored 45 points in 36 games with the Winnipeg Bruins AAA U17 team last season.

“We were quite surprised to see Ben still there, so it didn’t take us very long to submit the pick,” says McAulay. “Ben’s got that real combination of skill and grit that you look for. He’s a strong, athletic kid who’s also a great track-and-field athlete, so we’re excited to see what he can bring to the table for us down the line.”

In the fourth round, the Nighthawks scooped up forward Ryden Duchon of West St. Paul. Duchon scored 24 points in 44 games last season with the Winnipeg Thrashers U18 AAA team.

McAulay notes that Duchon has a lot of dynamic offensive ability. He’s also a really smart player and uses his speed to generate offence for himself and others on the ice.

The Nighthawks took defenceman Danny Cross of Winnipeg in the fifth round with the fifty-seventh overall selection. Cross scored 23 points in 43 games with the Winnipeg Bruins U18 AAA team last season.

“Danny Cross was highly rated on our draft board, so we were very happy to get him where we did,” McAulay adds. “He’s a steady, solid defenceman that does a lot right and is hard to play against.”

Next up, with the fifty-ninth overall pick, the Nighthawks took forward Carter Kingerski of Headingley. Kingerski scored 52 points in 43 games last season with the Winnipeg Wild U18 AAA squad.

“Carter is a high Western Hockey League pick with Tri-City, so he’ll probably do well there,” McAulay acknowledges. “But to be able to add someone like that late in the draft who could be a real difference maker if he ever does play Junior A is something we couldn’t pass up on.”

Finally, the Nighthawks chose defenceman Kellan Sichewski of Garson with their final pick. Sichewski scored seven points in 41 games last season with the Eastman Selects U18 AAA team.

McAulay is hopeful that all these players will eventually become Nighthawks, and that some of them may even make an impact at the team’s upcoming training camp and push for a roster spot.

“Most of our draft picks will come into our training camp this year,” says McAulay. “For River Arnason, he’ll come in, and we’ll see where he’s at and then make the best decision for his development, whether that’s going back to U18 for another year or playing with us in Niverville. At the end of the day, we’re open-minded to some draft picks staying and making the team, but we want to do what’s best for them and their development.”

The Nighthawks also announced its 2024 auto-protected players. Max Dowse is a 16-year-old forward who played last year on the Rink Hockey Academy U17 team. Noah Hudson, also born in 2008, is a defenceman who plays with the Eastman Selects U17 team.

Both Dowse and Hudson are from Niverville and hope to wear a Nighthawks jersey someday in the near future.

“I am extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of my hometown team,” says Dowse. “I always thought it would be really cool to play for Niverville, ever since they came into the league. This fall, I’m planning to play for the RHA U18 prep team and look forward to a great fall camp with the Nighthawks.”