Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Waterloo Black Hawks 2008-09 Preview

The Black Hawks are coming of a great season, but came up just short in the finals in Omaha. They return a good core and could be early on favorites to start the season.

Key Departures:
Brett Olson-Good player, team leader.
Billy Maday-Good playmaking forward.
Matt DiGirolamo-One of the better goalies in the league.
Blake Kessel-Team's top defenseman.

Goalie (1):
Joe Howe (1990) - Quality goalie, should be ready to be the #1.

Goalie Evaluation:
Howe left high school early for an opportunity to play in Waterloo. He was playing great and he and Matt DiGirolamo kept pushing each other. Howe came down with an untimely sickness, mono I believe, and was unable to play. During that time, DiGirolamo got hot and when Howe was ready to come back, he only played in five games, but he did go 5-0. When in net, Howe played very well and I think he's ready to become a #1 in this league and I also feel he will be extremely successful.

Defense (3):
Michael Montrose (1991)
Patrick Wey (1991) - Lots of potential. I'm feeling a very solid campaign for Wey in 08-09.
Mike Marcou (1989)
- Solid defenseman, could be a good leader.

Defense Evaluation:
Waterloo is set to return just two on the blue line. These two are still very young, but will need to step up and help lead this defensive corps. Montrose and Wey are still young, but the experience they worked to obtain this year will be huge for next season. I remember Wey from the feature the USHL did on him awhile back. He seems to have a load of potential and lots of promise. Marcou has really developed into a reliable defenseman. He played in a handful of games in his rookie season, but was given a larger role this past season, and took advantage of it. Marcou is set to enroll at Massachusetts in 2009.

Forwards (11):
Keegan Meuer (1989) - I'm expecting a solid campaign from him this season.
Eddie Olczyk (1989) - Good energy guy and penalty killer.
Craig Smith (1989) - Could be a team leader, good energy guy.
Nick Larson (1989) - Started off slow, but quickly became a top tier forward.
Jordan Samuels-Thomas (1990) - One of the more physical players on the team.
Brett Beebe (1990) - Beebe was a Storm draft pick, but found his way to central Iowa. Has some potential.
Scott Pavelski (1988) - Had a great pre-season, but just kinda faded away during the season.
Mike Fink (1990) - Highly regarded, though he didn't produce as much as expected.
Brock Montpetit (1990) - Good player, could be a force next season.
Siim Liivik (1988) - Not a flashy player, but was always fighting for the puck and getting under the other team's skin.
Jan-Mikael Juutilainen (1988) - NHL draft pick, but has never really shown why.

Forward Evaluation:
Waterloo returns a great core up front, though it's not known where Liivik and Juutilainen will be playing come next season. Larson will be the best forward of this group, while Montpetit and Fink have the skills and potential to be among the top forwards on the team. Smith seems to be a great energy guy, but is able to chip in on the offensive side when needed. Meuer didn't light the lamp as many times as last season, but he made a huge mark on the assists chart. This season, Keegan racked up 22 assists, good for 5th on the team. He had a great playoff run, and should look to build on that success. Samuels-Thomas isn't the largest guy, but he likes to play a physical game. He may not be the best hitter, but he's out there trying to play the body as much as possible and let everyone else know it's not going to be easy. Beebe is a bit of a wildcard. He didn't play in a whole lot of games, but he is still on the young side and has potential.

Futures Evaluation:
Waterloo has a lot of talent on their futures roster. Tyler Barnes spent some time with the Hawks last season, and had a goal and an assist in 1 game. Chris Student had the opportunity to play for Waterloo this past season, but chose to finish out his high school career. Student will be with the Hawks this coming season before heading off to Northeastern. He should be a quality player on the Waterloo blue line. Eric Ringel has consistently been one of the best players in the NAHL, and would be a great addition to the team, though it doesn't appear he will ever make it to Waterloo. Lee Moffie and Kevin Nugent are others to keep an eye on.

Overall Evaluation: A-

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