All sports including the USHL hockey season was cut short by the Coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. Leaving coaches, players and fans to wonder..."what could have happened in the playoffs?" I guess we'll never know. However, we can look back at what was a promising season for the Black Hawks, and award some postseason accolades.

Team captain Griffin Ness was voted the Waterloo Black Hawks’ 2019/20 Most Valuable Player by his teammates, leading a list of award winners.

Ness paced the Hawks with 20 goals, and his 44 points ranked second.  His year was highlighted by a hat trick, six-point night against the Muskegon Lumberjacks during a 6-5 overtime win on January 24th.  It was the second-highest individual scoring performance in the USHL during 2019/20.  Ness had multiple points in nine other games.  His +18 plus/minus differential was best among Waterloo forwards. “Griffin led the team, on and off the ice, with words and actions,” said Black Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley, adding, “This recognition from his teammates is absolutely fitting.”

Other team awards are detailed below, including comments from O’Handley in italics:

Most Improved Player – Jacob Jeannette: The 17-year-old was limited to 23 games, but still contributed three goals and four assists.  Although he was the second-youngest player on the roster, Jeannette was +5. "Jacob battled through injuries and illness to make a contribution to our team.  The coaching staff completely concurs with the players’ choice on this award and are excited that Jacob will be back with us next year.”

Hardest Worker – Connor Caponi: able to dress for just 30 of the Black Hawks’ 49 games, Caponi still tied for the USHL lead with three short-handed goals.  He ended the year with 12 total goals and 21 points.  Caponi’s 17.9 percent shooting percentage was the highest on the team. “He has been our hardest-worker since he was on our affiliate list, and I expect that will be the case for as long as he plays, regardless of what team he plays for.”

Unsung Hero – Xander Lamppa: Lamppa finished as the Black Hawks’ leading scorer (45 points) by accumulating 30 assists.  Twelve of his points (including seven goals) came in power play situations.  Lamppa was one of five Black Hawks – and the only forward – to play in all 49 games. “In his second season in the league, Xander was able to make improvements and show what he is capable of.  One of the keys to his season was the timeliness of his contributions.”

Rookie of the Year – Gabriel Carriere: In net for 21 wins – including the Black Hawks’ last seven victories – Carriere was one of just three USHL goaltenders to reach that win total in 2019/20.  His 2.57 goals-against average was sixth in the league. “Gabriel was an integral part of our success this season, especially down the stretch.  Besides his raw abilities, he brought a calmness which was good for our team."

In addition, Black Hawks defenseman Aaron Bohlinger won the team’s Community Service Award by volunteering the most hours for various team appearances and projects throughout the season.

Here's hoping that everything is back to "normal" by the start of the 2020/21 USHL hockey season!

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