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Last updated: Mon. Jun. 30, 2014 - 07:49 am EDT

NHL draft passes as a blur for Siebenaler

Second Fort Wayne player to be drafted

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The fastest 24 hours of Blake Siebenaler's 18-year-old life started around Noon Saturday when the Columbus Blue Jackets picked him in the third round of the National Hockey League draft. Everything after that was fun, but it was also exhausting and passed in a blur.

Beforehand, sitting in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center with family members, there was the anticipation, excitement and drama of waiting for his name to be called. Anything seemed possible on every pick.

``I think it was kind of a mix of everything,'' the former Carroll student said. ``We were sitting there a little bit and we were a little anxious because we had no idea when it might happen. I don't think anybody else did either. Then you get that stomach drop when you hear your name and everything that you worked for comes together in that moment. I was pretty excited.''

Then there were a million handshakes, hugs, pictures, short interviews and more pictures, autographs and still more pictures, a meeting in the team suite, some paperwork to fill out and even more pictures. It turned out to be an exhausting day of adrenalin. There was no way to remember everyone he met, even though he tried.

``It was pretty awesome,'' he said. `` You aren't really thinking too much because once they call your just part of the process. It was a long process because there was a lot of sitting around because the players were so backed up. You are sitting there and starting to let it sink in. I think I'll remember it for a long time.''

Siebenaler is the first Fort Wayne-born or -based player to be drafted by the NHL since Dale Purinton in 1995. The son of former Komets great Cal Purinton, he was picked in the fifth round by the New York Rangers. Purinton was born in Fort Wayne and lived here until he was 4 years old.

Purinton and Snider High School's Fred Knipscheer are the only Fort Wayne players who have played in the NHL.

Purinton played 181 games in the NHL with the New York Rangers from 2000 to 2004, scoring four goals and 20 points and earning 578 penalty minutes. Knipscheer, an undrafted free agent, played 28 regular-season games and 16 playoff games with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues, scoring eight goals and 12 points in the mid-1990s.

Siebenaler, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound defenseman, was born in Edon, Ohio, and moved to Fort Wayne when he was in the fourth grade. He attended Carroll High School as a freshman before moving to Cleveland to start his rise through hockey's development system. He scored six goals and 30 points in 68 games with 24 penalty minutes and a minus-16 rating last season, his first playing for the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs.

After the draft, Siebenaler returned to Michigan where he's doing summer training, but he'll take part in a Columbus rookie camp next week. He'll likely attend the Blue Jackets training camp in September before heading back to Niagara and another season. His primary goal is not to make the Blue Jackets quickly but to be prepared to stay once he gets there.

``It's kind of a patience game,'' he said. ``You don't want to rush into it, and I'm not in any hurry. I still have some growing left to do and need to develop my strength and speed. It could be three years from now or five years, but I'll be happy whenever as long as I'm ready.''

In other words, it's time for Siebenaler to slow everything down.

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