MARS — Carter Schade was expecting to go high in the United States Hockey League draft, held May 6.
The 16-year-old defenseman for the Penguins Elite 16-and-under team didn't expect to go No. 1 overall, however.
“I was super excited,” said Schade, a Mars native and sophomore at North Catholic High School. “It was special to see all my hard work in the past and now was paying off.”
Schade was selected by the Lincoln (Neb.) Stars of the USHL, which is considered the top junior hockey league in the country.
Seven of the top 22 picks in the 2018 NHL draft played in the USHL. The league has sent hundreds of players to the NHL since 1981.
Schade said he expected to go either third or fourth overall, but was pleasantly surprised when the Stars called him to tell him they were going to pick him an hour before the draft began.
He said, though, he won't celebrate his No. 1 overall selection for long.
“Of course you take it in and enjoy it that day,” Schade said. “But then you get back to work.”
Schade began playing hockey when he was 4.
He started out as a forward, but moved to defenseman when he was 10.
“One of my coaches thought I should play defense,” Schade said. “When I was that young, I didn't really think much of it — I was just eager to play.”
Schade, though, took to the position well.
Now at 5-foot-10 and a solid 190 pounds, Schade said he is the prototype for defensemen in junior hockey.
He has the toughness for the demanding position, but also has the speed to rush the puck and score.
He's scored 19 goals and tallied 44 points in 72 games for the Penguins Elite over the past two seasons.
Schade was also drafted by the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League in April.
He never gave a serious thought about playing in the OHL.
“If you play in that league, you give up your college eligibility,” said Schade, who has already committed to play at Penn State University. “I'm big on education and I didn't want to give that up.”
Schade will leave for Lincoln in June for rookie minicamp. The 2019-20 season begins in September.
There are several NHL defensemen Schade has modeled his game after.
The closest to his style is Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins. Krug is 5-9, 186 pounds and like Schade, is a left-handed shooter.
Schade said he's also a fan of P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Schade has met Letang several times because of his affiliation with the Penguins Elite program.
“I've met a bunch of the Penguin players,” Schade said. “It's pretty neat.”
Schade's goal is to eventually reach the NHL.