East’s Toninato among three local NHL drafteesDom Toninato, his dad, Jim, and his grandfather, Richard of Bemidji, Minn., took a chance on the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and flew to Pittsburgh on Thursday. It turned out to be a success.
By: Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune
Dom Toninato, his dad, Jim, and his grandfather, Richard of Bemidji, Minn., took a chance on the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and flew to Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Friday, they watched the first-round selections at the Consol Energy Center, and returned Saturday for the final six rounds. The trip was rated a success as Dom Toninato, a center and recent Duluth East graduate, was picked in the fifth round by Toronto.
“We had an idea I’d get picked, and to get picked anywhere in the draft is great. I was very excited to hear my name called,” Toninato said by phone from Pittsburgh. “I had a couple of pre-draft meetings with Toronto and was able to meet their entire staff (Saturday), including (president) Brian Burke. I’m very honored to be part of their organization.”
Toninato, 18, a Minnesota Duluth recruit, was the first Minnesota high school player taken during the two days, 126th overall among 211 selections. In the seventh round, Grand Rapids defenseman Jake Bischoff, a Minnesota recruit, was taken 185th by the New York Islanders; and Duluth Marshall forward Judd Peterson, a St. Cloud State recruit, 204th by Buffalo.
All were members of the 2012 News Tribune All-Area boys hockey first team. Toninato was second in East scoring with 33 goals and 40 assists for 73 points in 31 games, as the Greyhounds won the Minnesota Class AA consolation title and finished 29-2. Peterson, a center, led Marshall’s scoring with 47 goals and 36 assists for 83 points in 30 games, as the Hilltoppers advanced to the Class A state tournament and finished 21-9. Bischoff recorded 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points in 25 games.
Toninato and Peterson were 2012 Minnesota Mr. Hockey finalists. All will play in the U.S. Hockey League in 2012-13 — Toninato in Fargo, N.D.; Peterson with Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Bischoff with Omaha. Toninato will join the Bulldogs in 2013 or 2014. His dad was a UMD forward from 1982-86.
Peterson, 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds, had an inkling which NHL team was most interested, telling the St. Cloud Times this week: “Buffalo is saying they really like me and the way I handle the puck.”
Buffalo’s Kevin Devine, director of amateur scouting, said in a statement: “Peterson is another result of our combine, which he looked good at. We’ve got a scout right in his hometown who speaks very highly of him. He put up big numbers, now he’s got three or four years to develop at St. Cloud.”
Bischoff, 5-11 and 178 pounds, was among six defensemen taken by the Islanders on the second day of the draft.
The Toninatos were at PNC Park on Thursday night, as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Minnesota Twins 9-1, and were able to soak up some of the city’s atmosphere for three days. They return to Minnesota today.
“I’ve received so many phone calls (Saturday) from friends and family, and I am so thankful for all of the support I’ve had while playing hockey,” said Dom Toninato, who is 6-1½ and 170 pounds.
He expects to be at Toronto’s rookie camp, which opens July 2.