Waterloo, Iowa – Defenseman Keith McInnis of Red Deer, Alberta, became the first rookie added to next season’s Waterloo Black Hawks roster when he signed a USHL tender on Thursday evening.
The now-16-year-old has spent the past two seasons at Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Making a jump from the U15 level a season ago, McInnis spent this year with the school’s U18 squad. In 24 games, he has notched a goal and nine assists. At 6-feet, 1-inch and 180 pounds when the schedule began last fall, he also had the chance to represent the Province of Alberta as an assistant captain during the WHL Cup Tournament, skating with and against players in his own age group. He was named to the event’s All-Star Team, the only representative from the Alberta squad.
McInnis described the factors which make him confident that Waterloo is the right place to continue his development.
“The biggest thing for me was the coaching staff; the coaches really showed a ton of interest in me, and their facilities and fans are second to none,” McInnis said. “The jump to junior is never an easy one, but I believe that with this coaching staff and players around me I will be able to grow and develop.”
Under the USHL’s tender system this spring, teams have the opportunity to sign up to two players born in 2006 ahead of the league draft next month. The agreement includes a commitment that tendered players will join their new team in the fall. McInnis is the first player acquired through the process by General Manager Bryn Chyzyk, who was promoted to his position last summer.
“We are extremely excited Keith has made his decision to continue his development path with our organization,” said Chyzyk. “We consider Keith one of the best defensemen in North America for the 2006 age group. Equally important for us is that he checks all the boxes as to the type of person we want to wear the Black Hawk logo. For a 16-year-old kid, he exemplifies leadership qualities well beyond his years. We cannot wait for Keith to step on the ice at Young Arena and make an immediate impact for our hockey club.”
Hawks Head Coach Matt Smaby echoed those sentiments.
“I want to publicly welcome Keith to our organization; we think we can help him achieve his goals for the next stage of his hockey career, and he brings so many good things to Waterloo,” Smaby said. “Defense can be a challenging position, but many of the things that are difficult to teach come naturally to Keith. In addition to his tremendous hockey ability, we’ve been extremely impressed with his maturity and leadership qualities. From all we’ve seen, Keith exemplifies the characteristics at the core of being a Waterloo Black Hawk, both on and off the ice.”
Yale Lions Director of Hockey Operations Brad Bowen added some additional insight about McInnis.
“He is a smooth, high hockey IQ defenseman who plays a 200-foot game and is on the ice in all key situations: the first minute, the last minute, the power play and the penalty kill,” Bowen said, also noting, “Keith is well-liked and respected by his teammates and the entire hockey staff. He has an excellent work ethic both on and off the ice. Most importantly, he is a better person than a hockey player; Waterloo is getting a special student athlete.”
As part of McInnis’ signing, the Black Hawks will forego their first pick during the opening round in Phase I of the 2022 USHL Draft. Phase I selections will be made on May 2nd.
Waterloo still has two weekends remaining during the 2021/22 season. McInnis says he has been studying his future team in recent weeks while weighing his decision to sign with the Hawks.
“The atmosphere every game is phenomenal. The players are great, and the support staff around this team make Waterloo such a great place to play,” said McInnis, adding, “I am very excited to play for the Black Hawks and to develop my game as a whole.”
Tag(s): Player News