The top tier of college hockey in the United States finally returned to the ice last night. Two recent high draft picks made their presence known as the buzz about them in Canada continues to grow. Also, another draft pick from the most recent NHL Entry Draft scored his first United States Hockey League (USHL) goal. Finally, a young goaltending prospect switches teams on his loan and his hoping for some defense in front of him.
NHL Prospects Shine in Big Ten Opener
NCAA Division I hockey finally made its 2020-21 season debut on Friday night when the University of Wisconsin hosted the University of Notre Dame in the Big Ten opener. There were plenty of NHL draftees on the ice and a pair of recent first-rounders did not disappoint.
Linus Weissbach scored the first goal of the night to put the Badgers up 1-0. The Swedish-born forward was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the seventh round (192nd overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. In his three previous seasons with Wisconsin, he scored 22 goals and 73 points in 96 games.
Cole Caufield, the 15th overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, picked up the secondary assist on the play. He is coming off a very successful freshman season that saw him score 19 goals and 36 points.
Dylan Holloway doubled the lead with a power-play goal late in the second period with Weissbach picking up an assist. The young forward was selected 14th overall by the Edmonton Oilers at last month’s NHL Entry Draft and the Calgary native has a lot of fans excited in his home province.
“For not playing a game in eight months, the first two periods were as physical probably as probably any game we’ve played in the past few years,” Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato said after the game. “I’m not just saying on our end, but both ways. It was a great start for us and I’m really happy with it.”
The two rivals will meet again in South Bend, IN, later on tonight.
Smith Nets His First USHL Goal
The USHL is back in action featuring a lot of players who were selected in this past NHL Entry Draft and many more looking to impress before next year’s draft. Jack Smith falls into that first group as he was selected by the Canadiens in the fourth round (102nd overall) last month
Smith made his league debut on Friday night and scored his first goal in the Sioux Falls Stampede’s 5-3 loss to the Fargo Force. He finished his night with four shots on goal and four penalty minutes.
The young forward is taking the next step in his career after a very successful high school career in Minnesota. He scored 57 goals and 129 points in 61 games for St. Cloud Cathedral before making the jump to the USHL. He has a long way to go before even considering turning pro, but the raw talent is there.
Silovs Changes Teams
Goaltender Arturs Silovs has started his season in his native Latvia as we all await some sort of normalcy to return to North America. He was originally loaned to HS Riga by the Vancouver Canucks, but he appears to be on the move.
According to HK Mogo, the 19-year-old netminder will be joining their club. They made it a point in their announcement that Silovs will be heading back to North America in January.
The Canucks drafted Silovs in the sixth round (156th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He made the journey over to North America to spend the 2019-20 season with the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
In 36 OHL games, Silovs posted a .891 save percentage (SV%) and 3.87 goals-against average (GAA) with one shutout. While those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, they were not awful for a goaltender playing coming over for his first North American season in a league known for high-powered offenses. Among goaltenders with at least 30 games played, he ranked 11th in SV% and 20th in GAA.
In his two games for HS Riga, he faced an incredible 109 shots, surrendering nine goals. It will be interesting to see what he can do with some defense in front of him.
Stay with us for our daily Prospect News & Rumors column as will keep you abreast of all the action of the NHL’s future stars from around the globe.
All stats provided by InStat Hockey.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.