Sometimes it can take time for things to click.
When you watch Guelph Storm forward Liam Hawel play, it’s impossible not to be intrigued, as not many prospects have the same package of attributes that he does. Not only does he stand at a 6-foot-5 in height, he combines his natural size with a silky smooth skating stride, composure with the puck and, when he uses it, an absolutely lethal wrist shot.
However, the “when he uses it” part has been a key caveat when it comes to assessing Hawel’s development as a prospect. While the Stars’ 2017 fourth rounder has a wide array of tools at his disposal, using them all on a consistent basis has been an issue.
Hawel picked up 41 points in 62 games in 2017-18 — good production, but not great. More concerning were his shot totals: just 111 in those 62 games, which placed him ninth on the entire Storm team. This season started much the same way, with Hawel picking up points here and there, but still not shooting the puck very much or establishing himself as a true impact player.
But could he have finally turned a corner?
The Arnprior, Ontario native is currently riding both a four-game goal-scoring streak and a five-game point-scoring streak, picking up a whopping six goals and 13 points in those five games. Going back to his past 10 games, he has 17 points. He’s also shooting the puck more lately, with 15 shots on net over his past four games, which certainly plays a part in his recent jump in goal scoring.
The 19-year-old Hawel is still without an entry-level contract from the Stars, so keeping this level of play going throughout the remainder of this season would do wonders for his chances of achieving that goal.
North American Juniors
Close but no cigar for Ty Dellandrea’s World Junior hopes this year. The Stars’ 2018 first-rounder received an invite to Hockey Canada’s camp to try out for the team, but was among the group of players who were ultimately cut from the roster. The good news for Dellandrea is that he’s still just 18 years old, so he’s eligible to play for the team next winter.
Winger Jason Robertson picked up one assist in one game last week, extending his point-scoring streak to 16 games. He was recently named to USA Hockey’s preliminary roster for the World Juniors and is widely considered to be a lock to make the team.
Jermaine Loewen finished serving his three-game suspension this week, returning just in time for a pair of weekend games with his Kamloops Blazers team. After missing seven combined games this season (split between two different suspensions), the power forward says he is focused on finding the right way to remain a physical presence on the ice without crossing the line.
“I’m done being a bad man,” he said in an interview. “I’m going to figure out how to play physical without getting suspended.”
Goaltender Jake Oettinger keeps rolling in the NCAA, turning aside 33 of 34 shots on Friday as Boston University defeated Dartmouth College by a score of 4-1. The Terriers certainly needed Oettinger that night, as they were outshot 34-22 in the game.
The Texas Stars had another positive week in the AHL, taking two wins and an overtime loss in three games played. They’ve now earned points in six straight games and are 7-2-1 in their past 10.
Forward Joel L’Esperance scored two goals in the three games, maintaining his status as the AHL’s rookie leader in both goals (14) and points (25).
Adam Mascherin also had two goals (and one assist) over that span, including the overtime winner on Saturday after a fantastic play by Nick Caamano.
Roope Hintz added a few more digits to his AHL point totals as he keeps waiting for his next call-up to the NHL, nabbing three assists. Ben Gleason and Dillon Heatherington also each recorded two assists over the course of the week.
Between the pipes, Landon Bow earned the win on Wednesday and struggled a bit in the overtime loss on Friday, while Philippe Desrosiers stopped 32 of 34 shots and was named the game’s second star on Saturday.
Jacob Peterson seems to be taking his World Juniors camp snub in stride, as he scored a goal and an assist in two games for Bjorkloven last week. He currently leads his team in goals with 10 and is tied for the team lead in points with 18.