Willie Knierim, No. 130 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, is in his second season with Dubuque in the United States Hockey League. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound right wing has 11 goals, 20 points, 112 penalty minutes and 82 shots on goal in 42 games this season. The Skokie, Ill., native is committed to Miami University for 2016-17. Knierim has offered to maintain a blog for NHL.com leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft.
We're really excited about where we're at here in Dubuque. It's the stretch drive and we are playing many rivalry games. It will make for a fun road to the playoffs, which start next month. I'm really proud of the steps made by the team this season, and we're going to continue to work hard as we head down the final stretch.
Everyone is doing his job. Everyone is pitching in by doing something, no matter how big or small it is. Eight players on our team have more than 10 goals, and 11 have at least 20 points. Our depth makes us dangerous.
In order to hit the playoffs with a bang we have to stay fresh. In a 60-game season, the routine starts to take over and you start going through the motions. We have to find a way to find that spark every night. With these big rivals coming up in the last month of the season, I don't think that will be too much of a problem.
As for my season, I feel like I'm doing all right. I would like to do more, but I think that's always the case. I'm just happy that the team is doing well. I found myself in the goal column four times in February, so if I keep doing what I'm doing the results will come.
As for the final NHL Central Scouting rankings that will come out in April, it will take care of itself. No need to worry about it. I will keep playing my game and let my game speak for itself. I will work the puck off of the wall, battle at the front of the net, stick up for my teammates and find a way to contribute to the team every night.
Playing in front of our fans in Dubuque makes this experience so worth it. We're going to keep working hard as a team towards the playoffs and beyond. This is going to be a fun ride to the finish.
Talk to you next month!