Draft pundits have been speculating on Shane Bowers’ future, and about where he will be selected in the 2017 NHL Draft, for longer than the two seasons he played for the Black Hawks in Waterloo. The draft countdown, which was measured in years, is now down to hours ahead of Friday’s first round picks.
It did not take long for Waterloo fans to realize that Bowers is a special player. One lucky NHL team will be learning a lot about him soon. His strong performance at the NHL Combine comes on top of two terrific years in the USHL.
Bowers played in all 60 regular season games this year. We look back on some of the best, and wrap in his rookie season for good measure.
#5 – January 27, 2017
Black Hawks 6, Omaha 2
Bowers’ goal late in the second period gave the Hawks some permanent separation for their guests. The Lancers had overcome 1-0 and 2-1 deficits during the first 20 minutes and most of the middle frame was played with a 2-2 score. Bowers untied it, targeting the net low to the glove side of goalie Ryan Keane after Nick Swaney had worked the puck free from behind the Lancers’ net. Earlier in the evening, he had set up the opening score by Jackson Cates. Bowers’ goal proved to be the game-winner. He finished the contest with a +3 plus/minus differential.
#4 – April 2, 2016
Black Hawks 6, Sioux City 4
The headlines went to Yuri Terao, but Bowers helped to make it happen. Waterloo’s Japanese forward scored four goals; Bowers assisted on three, and added another helper, for a four-point night of his own. Two first period Terao goals were scored after Bowers had altered point shots by Waterloo defensemen, creating rebound opportunities. When Terao finished the hat trick in the mid-second period, Bowers had a hand in creating that opportunity, too. Georgs Golovkovs’ third period goal in transition also included a Bowers’ assist, giving him a role in creating the Hawks’ first four goals of the affair.
#3 – October 14, 2016
Black Hawks 2, Sioux City 1 (OT)
The low scoring total belies the thrilling nature of the comeback Waterloo staged during the first meeting of the season with their oldest rivals. It took more than 54 minutes for the Hawks to score on Matiss Kivlenieks while firing more than 30 shots toward the Musketeer netminder. Bowers made the play behind the Sioux City net which allowed Swaney to achieve the breakthrough. Tied at 1-1, the game headed to overtime and was still deadlocked with just over a minute to go. Swaney stretched the ice with a long pass which Bowers received while tightroping the blue line on right wing. Cutting to the net, he beat Kivlenieks with a low wrist shot, the Hawks’ 40th try on frame of the evening.
#2 – March 17, 2017
Black Hawks 4, Madison 2
On the road again, Bowers contributed another strong performance, both playmaking for his linemates and going to the net himself. The Capitols had the only goal during the first 30 minutes before Waterloo knotted it up. Alex Limoges had the first Waterloo goal; his second came just over a minute later when Bowers fed him a pass in prime scoring position at the top of the crease during a power play. Bowers scored the goal which would be the winner later in the period, tipping Grant Gabriele’s shot from the right point. The Hawks sealed the win when Ben Copeland scored from Bowers in the third. Bowers was on the ice for all four Waterloo goals in the game.
#1 – March 25, 2017
Black Hawks 2, Dubuque 1
A clutch performance from Bowers in a close, low-scoring game gave the Hawks the win they needed to clinch a berth into the 2017 Clark Cup Playoffs. The game went without any scoring through two periods until a Waterloo power play backfired into a Fighting Saints shorthanded goal. During the very same advantage, Bowers’ assist on Limoges’ goal tilted the score back even. Fate would provide a final special teams chance in the closing two minutes and the Hawks capitalized. The Boston University recruit showed great patience when a rebound came his way beside the net. With 14.6 second to go, Bowers picked his spot and flipped in the game-winner.
All throughout 2016/17, Bowers was considered one of the top North American prospects eligible for the NHL Draft. In April, NHL Central Scouting ranked him 16th. The 2017 NHL Draft will be conducted in Chicago this Friday and Saturday.