Photo by Hickling Images
Team: Waterloo Black Hawks
Head Coach: P.K. O’Handley, 16th season
"Some of the youngest players on our team last season will be among the players we rely on the most this season. They have a big opportunity to grow. Our long-term success in 2017-18 will depend a lot on whether - and how quickly - they grow into those roles. We certainly have some incoming players we are excited about, but most successful teams in this league are driven by the second- and third-year players who are best able to build on their experience."
2016-17 Record: 40-16-2-2 (84 PTS, 2nd in Western Conference)
Top Returners: Ben Copeland, Jackson Cates, Jack Drury, Michael Ferrandino, Mason Palmer, Hank Sorensen, Garrett Wait
Notable Additions: Joey Cassetti, Danny DiGrande, Matej Tomek
After falling a game shy of the 2017 Clark Cup Final, the Black Hawks are aiming to remain one of the contenders in the Western Conference standings. P.K. O’Handley brings back several players with USHL experience and also welcomes some new faces to the fold in Waterloo.
Garrett Wait is the leading returning scorer from last year’s team. The Minnesota commit finished fifth on the team in scoring last season with 38 points (10G, 28A) in 58 games. Jack Drury, who put up 12 points (4G, 8A) in 44 games as a 16-year-old, is looking to have a breakout second season in the USHL before moving on to Harvard University. The Winnetka, IL native also had a strong showing for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, with five points (2G, 3A) in four games. Ethan Johnson (20 PTS), Garrett Klee (19 PTS), Ben Copeland (15 PTS) and Hank Sorensen (14 PTS) are also returning players who are looking to build on a strong 2016-17 campaign.
In terms of new players on the roster this season, the most notable might be Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matej Tomek. The Slovakian netminder spent the last two seasons at the University of North Dakota, and the 2014-15 season with the Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL), where he posted a 1.83 GAA and .928 SV% en route to being named NAHL Goaltender of the Year. The Black Hawks are hoping he can return to that form and take the place of Robbie Beydoun, who is set to begin his freshman season at Michigan Tech. USHL veterans Danny DiGrande and Joey Cassetti will are also new additions to the roster, and they will aim to try to replace the offense of Shane Bowers, Kevin Charyszyn and Nick Swaney.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.