Fortunato, Willett, Hoffman, Hitchcock futures bright

Syosset sophomore Corey Hoffman prepares to take a Syosset sophomore Corey Hoffman prepares to take a faceoff in the first period. (Feb. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: James Escher

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Four Long Island high school players were drafted into the top Junior Hockey leagues in the United States and Canada last week.

Brandon Fortunato (Portledge High School, Long Island Royals) a defenseman from North Hills was taken in the first round of the the United States Hockey League Futures Draft by the Green Bay Gamblers; Daniel Willett (Locust Valley High School, New Jersey Rockets), a defeseman, in the second round by the Lincoln Stars and Corey Hoffman (Syosset, Long Island Gulls), a forward, was taken in the fifth round by the Sioux Falls Stampede.

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Willett and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, New Jersey Rockets) , a forward were also selected in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft. Willett went in the eighth round to the Plymouth Whalers and Hitchcock in the 12th round to the Brampton Battalion.

"It's a great feeling," Fortunato said. "It feels like my hard work has paid off. I felt really proud."

All four players may have to wait a year to join their new teams if it is determined they need more time to develop. If that is the case, each player will continue playing at high-level youth programs across the country. After Juniors, Willet and Fortunato have offers to play NCAA Division I hockey at Northeastern and Harvard, respectively, in 2014.

Hitchcock also has an offer to play for Yale in 2014, but would lose his amateur status and his NCAA eligibility if he decided to play for Brampton in the OHL. He's likely to forgo the OHL and accept an invitation instead to the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. this fall before going to Yale.

Hoffman hasn't explored his college options yet, but Portledge sophomore Brandon Fusaro, undrafted, received a verbal commitment to play for the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2014.

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