The Twin City Thunder’s National Collegiate Development Conference team has tendered a hard-nosed defensman in 16-year-old in Andriiy Yevtukhov.

Yevtukhov (5-foot-10, 161 pounds) is from Kiev, Ukraine. He played for the Springfield Jr. Pics 16U team, along with fellow Thunder NCDC tender Matus Hadusovsky, that won the United States Premier Hockey League’s 16U national championship. Yevtukhov tallied six goals and 12 assists in 15 games this season for the Pics, to go along with five goals and nine assists in 14 games with the Jr. Pics’ USPHL’s Tier III Elite team.

As a 15-year-old in 2018-19, Yevtukhov suited up for the Ukraine national team at both the U18 and U20 levels in International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments.

“I am really excited about him. He plays that (shutdown-style) type of hockey, that’s what we are looking for,” Thunder co-owner and coach Dan Hodge said. “We are looking for guys that make opponents pay a price when they come over the blue line or coming out of the corner.”

By tendering two player from the 16U level, Hodge is trying to bring in high-end younger players that coaches and scouts at the next level will be attracted to.

“It’s one of those things is we have a league that has a cap on the (20-year-old) kids,” Hodge said. “The speed and the skill level of the league translates better to younger kids. A lot of colleges are looking for those kids nowadays at that age level — 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds. That’s a big thing, they want to see these kids first. We are lucky we play in a league that focuses on that.”

The cap of 20-year-olds for the 2020-21 is going up from six to eight in the NCDC, and goalies don’t count toward the cap.

Springfield was one of the Thunder’s affiliate teams this year, and Hodge has been keeping tabs on the entire organization.

“I was actually down in Springfield (Massachusetts) about six weeks ago, doing a camp, and I went over and watched (Premier League coach) Rob Bonneau run one of their Premier practices, and it was a great practice,” Hodge said. “(There was) just a lot of hard work, (players) competing all over the ice. I can only imagine, from top to (bottom) from that organization, every practice, every coach comes in with that mindset.”

Springfield fields two junior teams, one at the Premier League level and another at the Elite level. Both are considered Tier III junior hockey. In addition to the 16U team at the midget level, the Pics have a 15U team.

With the Yevtukhov tender, the Thunder have used half of their allotted six tenders for the upcoming season. Earlier this week they signed forward Anthony Cinato.

A tender is a contract that gives a team a player’s USPHL NCDC rights, and the player cannot be drafted or signed by another NCDC team. The player, however, can sign with another team in another junior league

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