Next weekend, the Waterloo Black Hawks will visit the Lincoln Stars at the Ice Box; four Hawks players will then return to the venue next month when Lincoln hosts the 2019 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on January 8th.
Thursday, the United States Hockey League announced that Waterloo’s Matej Blumel, Ryan Drkulec, Vladislav Firstov, and Logan Stein have been picked to skate among the 40 NHL Draft-eligible players who will participate in the annual event.
Seventeen participants from the 2018 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game went on to be selected at the 2018 NHL Draft, including Black Hawks goaltender Jared Moe and forward Jack Drury.
Currently, Blumel is tied for second in USHL scoring with 31 points. Of those, the second-year Waterloo forward has 14 goals, which ranks third in the league. His marks for both points and goals are best on the team. Blumel is committed to the University of Connecticut. This will be the Czech native’s second time appearing in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game; last season, he scored a goal when the event was held in Kearney, Nebraska.
Firstov leads all USHL rookies with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists). Among all league players, his point production ties for ninth. The native of Russia has recorded 13 of his points on the power play. Firstov’s season has been highlighted by a pair of game-winning goals and eight multipoint games.
Perhaps Drkulec’s most memorable moment so far from his first season with the Hawks came on the road when he scored an overtime goal versus the Green Bay Gamblers on November 10th. In 22 appearances, the Texas native and Harvard recruit has five goals and six assists.
Stein has been in the crease for half of Waterloo’s 12 victories in 2018/19. The future Ferris State Bulldog is 6-1-1 with a 2.78 goals-against average, which ranks fourth among USHL goals and second among rookie netminders. His time as a Hawk began with a 34-save effort during an October 6th win against the Central Illinois Flying Aces.
NHL general managers and scouts, NHL Central Scouting and USHL general managers all provided input to help choose the participants for the 2019 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.