Clutch Goalie Signs with NHL’s Islanders
Just three years removed from a stellar run to the Clark Cup Championship Series, former Waterloo Black Hawks goaltender Stephon Williams signed a National Hockey League contract with the New York Islanders on Thursday.
The Fairbanks, Alaska native was acquired by Waterloo as an 18-year-old in early February of 2012. Williams finished the 2011/12 regular season with a mark of 10-6-2. During the playoffs, he was sensational, winning ten of 15 postseason games while stopping 92.2% of the shots he faced. The Hawks reached the winner-take-all fifth game during the championship series against the Green Bay Gamblers, while Williams set a club record for postseason victories during a single year. Since the United States Hockey League achieved Tier 1 status in 2002, Williams is the only goaltender to earn double-digits wins in one playoff campaign, a feat which cannot be equaled under the USHL’s current Clark Cup format.
Williams moved on from Waterloo to Minnesota State-Mankato. Following his freshman year at the school, he was selected by the Islanders during the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2013 NHL draft. His former Waterloo teammates Taylor Cammarata and Eamon McAdam were also chosen by New York the same summer.
In Mankato this winter, Williams delivered a 25-6-3 record during his junior campaign posting a 1.65 goals-against average, which was the second-best mark in the nation. A WCHA Second-Team All-Star, Williams played in 35 of the Mavericks’ 40 games, helping lead the club to a second straight conference championship and the top seed in the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament. His career NCAA record finishes at 51-24-5 with ten shutouts, a 2.01 GAA, and 91.7% save percentage.
Williams’ recent Mavericks teammate and fellow Waterloo alumnus Zach Palmquist also signed an NHL contract this week, inking a deal with the Minnesota Wild. Brandon Montour (University of Massachusetts, Anaheim Ducks) and Vince Hinostroza (Notre Dame, Chicago Blackhawks) have also moved from college hockey into agreements with NHL teams since the NCAA regular season ended.
Several former Black Hawks have made contributions for the Islanders at the NHL level. In 2006/07, Jason Blake had represented New York during the 2007 NHL All-Star game in the midst of a 40-goal season. Mark Eaton and Chris Ferraro also enjoyed stints with the Islanders.
Williams will join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League on an Amateur Tryout Contract for the remainder of the 2014/15 season. His two-year entry level deal with the Islanders takes effect for the 2015/16 NHL season.