Despite dozens of schedule alterations caused by the Omicron variant during the past six weeks, National Hockey League clubs are approaching the middle of their schedules. Three teams have already played 41 games and every organization has been on the ice for at least 32.
Waterloo Black Hawks alumni have collectively been in the lineup for well over 300 appearances in 2021/22, recording more than 150 points. Despite the challenging circumstances of December and early January, recent weeks have been very good for a number of former Hawks, with a ballooning list of alumni who have played in the NHL this winter.
Here is the latest:
Mikey Anderson – Los Angeles Kings
(Waterloo: 2015/16 – 2016/17)
This coming Thursday, Anderson will likely become the first former Hawk to play in 40 games this season. He has been on the ice for 39 of the Kings’ 40 contests and is +11, which is currently best among Waterloo alumni and ranks third on the L.A. roster. Anderson celebrated his first goal of the season last Thursday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, then added another on Monday against the San Jose Sharks. The two scores doubled his career goal total. The Kings host the Avalanche tomorrow; assuming Anderson is in the lineup, it will be his 100th career NHL appearance.
Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks did not play between December 16th and the 29th. As Vancouver returned to action, Boeser was sidelined for another two weeks, getting back into the lineup for the first time on January 11th. The timing of the layoff was unfortunate; Boeser had eight points (five goals, three assists) in the Canucks’ first eight December games. He scored his first goal of January on Tuesday when Vancouver visited the Nashville Predators. Boeser now has ten goals and nine assists in 33 games this year and is progressing toward his 300th career game (currently at 286).
Jackson Cates – Philadelphia Flyers
(Waterloo: 2016/17 – 2017/18)
With the reimplementation of Taxi Squads last month, Cates was called up from the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Lehigh Valley. He scored in his first game of the season on December 16th against the Montreal Canadiens. It was the first goal of his NHL career. Cates played in a total of seven games before recently being returned to the AHL.
Jack Drury – Carolina Hurricanes
(Waterloo: 2016/17 – 2017/18)
The Carolina Hurricanes were among the teams most profoundly impacted by COVID-19 in mid-December. Two days after a Hurricanes’ game against the Minnesota Wild was called off due to a lack of players, Drury made his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings on December 16th. He scored that night, then again two days later versus the L.A. Kings. Drury has been back with the Chicago Wolves since those two matchups but can still say he has scored in every NHL game in which he has played.
Mark Friedman – Pittsburgh Penguins
(Waterloo: 2012/13 – 2013/14)
Friedman ended a long spell out of the Penguins lineup on January 8th during a road game against the Dallas Stars. It was his first game since November 13th. Twelve appearances in 2021/22 is still a career high for Friedman, who made his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2019. He has four assists during the current schedule.
Vinnie Hinostroza – Buffalo Sabres
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 2012/13)
Skating as a Sabre after signing as a free agent last summer, Hinostroza is on target to challenge the figures from his best year in the National Hockey League. As a member of the Arizona Coyotes in 2018/19, he set career highs for games (72), goals (16), and points (39). So far this winter, Hinostroza has played in 36 of 39 Buffalo games with eight goals and 17 points. From December 11th to January 13th, he tallied at least one point in six of the eight contests he played in. All but one of Hinostroza’s points this season have been notched in even-strength situations.
Jacob MacDonald – Colorado Avalanche
(Waterloo: 2009/10 – 2010/11)
An upper body injury during a game against the Florida Panthers on December 12th has kept MacDonald off the ice ever since. Although he had been in the AHL for much of early 2021/22, the 28-year-old has made seven appearances for the Avalanche.
Brandon Montour – Florida Panthers
(Waterloo: 2013/14 – 2014/15)
The Panthers have the second-highest point total in the NHL (57), and Montour’s first full year in Florida has the potential to be the best of his career to date. With four goals and 14 assists, he has already matched his point total from 50 2020/21 games, split between the Panthers and Buffalo. Montour’s best season was a 32-point (nine-goal, 23-assist) effort as a member of the Anaheim Ducks in 2017/18. This season, points have come in pairs (or more). There have been five different instances when he has produced multiple assists, most recently on January 14th versus the Dallas Stars.
Tom Novak – Nashville Predators
During a December 17th game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Novak scored his first NHL goal. The power play score helped Nashville on their way to a 3-2 overtime victory. That appearance was Novak’s 27th and most recent NHL game. The rookie was recently returned to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Novak had also recorded six assists during his stint with the Predators.
Joe Pavelski – Dallas Stars
(Waterloo: 2002/03 – 2003/04)
Last Friday, Pavelski was held without a point during Dallas’ loss to the Florida Panthers. It’s the only time in the last 10 games that the 37-year-old has been denied a goal or assist. The recent run included a sparkling two-goal, three-assist effort versus the Seattle Kraken on January 12th. Pavelski’s five points in that game were a career-high for one night. He currently leads the Stars in goals (16), assists (22), and is tied for the club’s plus/minus lead (+10). Last Thursday, Pavelski was selected to appear in his fourth NHL All-Star Game.
Cal Petersen – Los Angeles Kings
(Waterloo: 2011/12 – 2013/14)
After a long layoff, Petersen surged back into the lineup on January 8th. Prior to hosting the Detroit Red Wings that night, he had not played in over a month. Petersen was certainly ready for the Wings, stopping all 21 shots he faced in a 4-0 win. It was the second shutout of his NHL career (the first had been against the St. Louis Blues in November of 2018). Petersen followed up by holding the New York Rangers and Seattle Kraken to one goal apiece in his next two starts. He is now 8-6-1 this season and on the cusp of pushing his save percentage above .900.
Rem Pitlick – Montreal Canadiens
It has been an eventful year for Pitlick, who spent training camp with the Nashville Predators. Waived just before the regular season began, he was claimed by the Minnesota Wild and started the season there. Over 20 games, Pitlick produced six goals and five assists, including a hat trick on November 13th against the Seattle Kraken. Pitlick was waived again in early January, claimed this time by the Montreal Canadiens. He has one goal and one assist since relocating. Pitlick’s 34 total NHL games have been spent with three different clubs. He is the first former Hawk to ever play for Montreal.
Dylan Samberg – Winnipeg Jets
The season began ominously for Samberg who suffered a preseason lower body injury. It was another setback after last winter – his first season in professional hockey – when he was limited to 32 games with the Manitoba Moose because of additional COVID-19 difficulties faced by the American Hockey League’s Canadian clubs. The pandemic sliced into the Jets’ roster earlier this month, bringing a promotion from the Moose and Samberg’s NHL debut in Detroit on January 13th. He recorded an assist and was back in the lineup Tuesday for Winnipeg’s game against the Washington Capitals.
Zach Sanford – Ottawa Senators
Sanford has played in every one of Ottawa’s 32 games after being traded from the St. Louis Blues in September. If he remains a regular part of the lineup as the year continues, Sanford will have the chance to challenge his previous high for appearances (60 in 2018/19). He has six goals and two assists to his credit. That includes a hat trick versus the Colorado Avalanche on November 22nd. During that game, he notched his lone power play goal of the season. Sanford is trying to reach a double-digit goal total for the third consecutive season.
Craig Smith – Boston Bruins
(Waterloo: 2006/07 – 2008/09)
January seems to have marked a positive turn for Smith. Out of his 13 points (five goals, eight assists) this season, six have come since the calendar turned to 2022. Most recently, that includes a goal against his former team, the Nashville Predators, on January 15th. Coinciding with Smith recent surge, he has been enjoying ice time on Boston’s top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Playing with those two stars could quickly yield the five assists he needs for 200 in his NHL career. Despite a 7-1 setback against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Bruins have won eight of their last ten.
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