Willie Knierim, No. 149 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, is in his second season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound right wing had 14 goals, 27 points, 161 penalty minutes and 103 shots on goal in 53 games this season. The Skokie, Ill., native has committed to Miami University in 2016-17. Knierim will maintain a blog for NHL.com leading up to the draft in Buffalo, N.Y.
It's that favorite time of the year for every hockey player and fan. Everyone is playing outside when the weather gets nicer and nicer, and we're preparing to play some of the most intense hockey we have all year. We did the most we could to secure home ice, but we will begin the USHL playoffs in Green Bay.
The Gamblers are a really different team. They aren't flashy. They are fast, with some skill, but they work really hard. We will have to get through their solid defense and great goalie. Our record against them (4-2-0) means nothing come playoff time. I won't give away any secrets, but we have to keep it simple and play our game. If we do that, I have faith in our guys.
We want the ultimate goal, because we came so close last time. I feel that our veteran experience will help us gain an edge in the series. It all starts Sunday (with Game 1). I can't wait to get started!
I was ecstatic to hear the news that I was invited to the NHL Scouting Combine (June 1-4). After seeing my final ranking on NHL Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, I thought it would be out of reach, but I couldn't be happier to participate. I received all of the tests and I have started to work on each one. Commitment to off-ice exercises is huge! Our strength and conditioning coach Jim Romagna has done a great job keeping us in the best shape possible.
Here's to a deep run in the playoffs! Talk to you next time.