Rookie forward James Hong made several impressive contributions toward the end of his first season with the Waterloo Black Hawks, and on Monday Hong announced an impressive college commitment, selecting Minnesota State University as his NCAA destination.
The Mavericks were the #2 overall seed for the 2022 NCAA Hockey Tournament and reached the National Championship Game against Denver in early April. The postseason run was the best in MSU history. It included regional victories over Harvard and Notre Dame, then the Mavericks ousted in-state rival Minnesota during the Frozen Four in Boston.
One night after MSU defeated the Gophers, Hong had his most remarkable game for Waterloo. Midway through the opening period, he assisted on a goal by Gavin Lindberg, giving the Hawks a 1-0 lead against the Fargo Force. The score had flipped by the late minutes, but with just 2:36 to go, Hong sprang into the offensive zone and completed a breakaway opportunity, tying the contest at 3-3 and pushing the matchup to overtime. Hong was chosen as Waterloo’s second shooter in the tie-breaking shootout which followed; by converting his opportunity, he lifted the Hawks to a 4-3 win.
During his last 12 regular season appearances, Hong produced one-third of his 24 points (five goals, three assists). Overall, his 11 goals and 13 assists in 2021/22 tied Hong for fourth in team scoring. Ranked with all United States Hockey League rookies, he tied for 16th in point production. Additionally, Hong’s 61 appearances tied for third on the club and made him one of just six Black Hawks to appear in at least 60 games last winter.
The last Black Hawk to skate for Minnesota State was Max Coatta, who was a member of the Mavericks’ program from 2015 to 2019.