NHL.com reports that Waterloo Black Hawks alumnus Tom Novak will play in his first National Hockey League game tonight when the Nashville Predators host the Los Angeles Kings.
Novak was recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League by Nashville on Monday. He has officially been part of the Predators’ organization since signing with the team in March of 2020, following a successful professional rookie season in Milwaukee.
However, Novak first attracted Nashville’s attention as a member of the Black Hawks. During the 2014/15 campaign, he produced 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) in 46 Hawks games, finishing second in team scoring and leading the club in assists. He also notably paced Waterloo with a +14 plus/minus differential. That winter, Novak also represented the United States during the World Junior A Challenge, topping the U.S. Junior Select Team’s stat sheet and returning from Canada with a gold medal from the event.
Two months after the 2014/15 schedule ended, Nashville selected Novak in the third round and with the 85th overall pick during the 2015 NHL Draft.
Spending the next four seasons with the Minnesota Gophers, the River Falls, Wisconsin-native recorded 88 points (18 goals, 70 assists) in 129 career NCAA games. Since turning pro following the 2018/19 season, he has skated in 93 regular season games for the Admirals, Chicago Wolves, and Florida Everblades (ECHL) with 20 goals and 58 assists.
While Novak was playing in Waterloo, forward Craig Smith was in the midst of a long stint that made him the most successful former Black Hawk to ever play for the Predators. From 2011 to 2020, Smith made 661 regular season appearances for Nashville, notching 162 goals and 168 assists. Smith also helped the Predators to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final series among the 52 postseason games he played for the organization.
Defenseman Mark Eaton was also a fixture in the Predators’ lineup from 2000 to 2006 after spending two seasons in Waterloo (1995/96 and 1996/97). Additionally, forward Rem Pitlick – Novak’s Waterloo teammate – played in 10 games for Nashville last season before being waived and claimed by the Minnesota Wild this fall.
Tonight’s game between the Predators and Kings begins at 7 p.m. Central Time.
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