Through December 11th, 10 Waterloo Black Hawks alumni have appeared in an NHL game this season. That equals the high-water mark from 2017/18, which was a record year. Remarkably, all of the players who have been active since the start of November have been skating for Western Conference teams. The group includes a pair of former Hawks teammates who each made their NHL debut last month.
With most teams having played their first 30 games, here’s a player-by-player rundown:
Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
(Waterloo: 2002/03 – 03/04)
Pavelski has zoomed to 20 goals for the 10th time in his career. He hit the mark on Monday in the Sharks’ 32nd game of the season. As of this writing, only six other NHL players have reached that threshold; Pavelski is just five behind league leader Alex Ovechkin. The Sharks’ captain has shown impressive consistency, too. Over his last eight appearances, he has found the net seven times. In that time, Pavelski has added three assists and has 27 total points this year.
Craig Smith – Nashville Predators
(Waterloo: 2006/07 – 08/09)
With his next goal, Smith will be in double-digits for the sixth consecutive season. At his recent pace, that could happen sooner than later. Smith has scored in the last two Nashville games and has three goals in his last five appearances. The forward is also +6 this year. A season ago, he was a career-best +20. During the month of December, Smith is likely to play in his 550th NHL regular season game. Only three Hawks alumni (Pavelski, Jason Blake, and Mark Eaton) have played in more contests.
J.T. Brown – Minnesota Wild
(Waterloo: 2008/09 – 09/10)
Brown has earned more ice time lately, compared with his first appearances for the Wild near the start of the season. During October, he was averaging a little more than seven minutes per game. Brown has logged over ten minutes in five of his last six games. That included a game with an assist versus the Edmonton Oilers on December 7th. Through 26 tilts with his new team, Brown now has a goal and three assists.
Vinnie Hinostroza – Arizona Coyotes
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 12/13)
A lower body injury during a 4-2 loss against the Washington Capitals has sidelined Hinostroza for the last two Coyotes games. For the time being, he has been placed on Arizona’s injured reserve list, although the nature of the injury suggests he will not be out of the lineup for a long period of time. Hinostroza has been relatively comfortable in his new surroundings. In the first 27 games, the 24-year-old was putting 1.8 shots on net per game, with four goals and eight assists.
Brandon Montour – Anaheim Ducks
(Waterloo: 2013/14 – 14/15)
In a Sunday shootout win versus the New Jersey Devils, Montour churned out his third multipoint game of the season with a goal and an assist. The first period goal was Montour’s fourth of the season and second in the last three Anaheim games. A scoring streak around Thanksgiving is the best of the defenseman’s young NHL career: from November 18th through November 25th, he had a point in four consecutive games and six total (a goal and five assists) in that time.
Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks
A lower body injury sidelined Boeser for most of November. He has splurged for a pair of multigoal games since his return to the lineup on November 27th. On the 29th, he scored twice versus the Vegas Golden Knights. Then on Sunday, Boeser churned out the second hat trick of his NHL career to boost Vancouver to a 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. He is +6 this season, boosted by a +5 figure in the St. Louis game. Boeser is also up to 17 points in 20 games.
Zach Sanford – St. Louis Blues
In 23 appearances, Sanford has equaled or surpassed the scoring numbers achieved in 39 games during his rookie season. He has four goals in each year, and his five assists already in 2018/19 eclipse his previous total. Six of Sanford’s nine points have been recorded during Blues wins. All of his points have come at even strength.
Jacob MacDonald – Florida Panthers
(Waterloo: 2009/10 – 10/11)
Since a two-game stint with Florida in early October – including his NHL debut – MacDonald has been skating for the Panthers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. There, he has 15 points in 19 games.
Cal Petersen – L.A. Kings
(Waterloo: 2011/12 – 13/14)
Petersen became the first former Black Hawks goalie to face a shot in an NHL game when he took the ice in relief of Peter Budaj on November 13th. He followed up with a start in the Kings’ next game, earning a shootout win versus the Chicago Blackhawks with 35 saves. Less than a week later, he pitched a 29-save shutout versus the St. Louis Blues. Petersen is 4-4-1 through his first ten appearances, and owns a 92.7 percent save percentage. He has made 30 or more saves seven times.
Patrick Russell – Edmonton Oilers
Russell has six NHL games to his credit, including his debut in the league on November 17th in a gmatchup against Edmonton’s archrival, the Calgary Flames. He was recently reassigned to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL and is still seeking his first NHL point. Coincidentally, out of Russell’s six NHL games, two came against teams with former Waterloo teammates on the active roster: L.A. on November 29th and St. Louis on December 5th.
Upcoming Alum vs. Alum Games before Christmas
December 13th – Vancouver @ Nashville
December 18th – San Jose @ Minnesota
December 20th – St. Louis @ Vancouver
December 22nd – Los Angeles at San Jose
December 23rd – Arizona @ San Jose
Visit Karen’s Print Rite at 2515 Falls Avenue in Waterloo or online at karensprintrite.com.