Former Waterloo Black Hawks forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas is expected to make his NHL debut this evening, refereeing a game at the United Center between the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.
Samuels-Thomas was a Black Hawk for two seasons (2007/08 and 2008/09), and spent his second year on a prolific scoring line with Craig Smith and J.T. Brown. Upon Samuels-Thomas’ ascension this evening, all three currently work in the NHL in different capacities: Samuels-Thomas as a game official, Smith as a forward for the Boston Bruins, and Brown as a television analyst for the Seattle Kraken.
As a skater with formidable size and a hard shot, Samuels-Thomas played in 115 USHL regular season games with 40 goals and 25 assists. He also took the ice for an additional 14 playoff games, recording five points (two goals, three assists) and helping Waterloo to the 2008 Clark Cup Championship Series. In 2008/09, Samuels-Thomas led the Hawks and tied for third in the league with 32 goals. That summer, he was picked by the Atlanta Thrashers in the seventh round of the NHL Draft.
At the college level, he spent two seasons at Bowling Green, then finished his NCAA career at Quinnipiac, highlighted by the Bobcats’ trip to the National Championship Game in 2013 when he was a junior. In total, Samuels-Thomas was in the lineup for 148 college games, recording 50 goals and 54 assists. After college, he began a professional playing career which extended into the 2019/20 season. Samuels-Thomas was most prolific in the American Hockey League, where he played in 195 regular season games for the San Diego Gulls, Ontario Reign, and Rochester Americans. He also skated in the ECHL and Europe.
As Samuels-Thomas transitioned from playing to refereeing, the South Windsor, Connecticut, native additionally spent time as a sports writer for The Athletic.
At least one other former Black Hawk has gone from playing in Waterloo to officiating in the NHL. Thor Nelson was a Hawk in 1986/87, eventually making his way to the National Hockey League as a linesman beginning in 1993 and working over 900 games.
On the playing side, 15 Black Hawks alumni have appeared in at least one NHL game during the winter of 2021/22. The contingent includes Tom Novak, Jack Drury, and Dylan Samberg, who each made their league debut this season.
Where Are They Now alumni updates are presented by Karen's Print Rite, 2515 Falls Avenue in Waterloo. Photo coutesy of the Chicago Wolves. Pictured with referee Samantha Hiller.