The National Hockey League Draft is less than a month away, and waterlooblackhawks.com is taking some time to highlight notable performances by the four members of the 2014/15 squad listed in NHL Central Scouting’s final pre-draft ranking. Today, we remember five standout efforts by defenseman Ethan Spaxman.
With Hayden Shaw out injured and Brandon Montour immanently about to depart for the University of Massachusetts, the Black Hawks needed a defenseman. Spaxman was acquired to fill the void and joined the club in mid-November.
After starting his USHL career with the Fargo Force, then moving on to the Bloomington Thunder, Waterloo was Spaxman’s third stop in the league, and the place he was able to settle in. The Brantford, Ontario, native played in 43 games and was out of the Hawks’ lineup just twice from the time of the trade through the end of the season. Committed to Merrimack, Spaxman tallied two goals, 14 assists, and owned a +1 plus/minus differential after coming to Waterloo.
NHL Central Scouting ranked Spaxman 181st among skaters eligible for this season’s draft. Here are five games which could have made a strong impression on the scouts:
#5 – December 27th at Des Moines
In the first game after the Christmas break, the Black Hawks sought to snap a three-game winless streak in a rematch against the last opponent they had seen prior to the holiday. Leading 2-1 in the second period, Spaxman blasted a shot toward the net during a power play, and Rem Pitlick was there to flip in the rebound. It was one of six special teams assists which Spaxman contributed throughout the year and helped Waterloo to a 5-4 victory. Spaxman was a regular contributor on the point for the Hawks’ second power play unit, often going over the boards with Alec McCrea or Phil Beaulieu.
#4 – November 29th at Cedar Rapids
Waterloo’s 5-2 Thanksgiving weekend road loss to the RoughRiders was closer than the final score would indicate. Spaxman helped to make the game particularly exciting, thanks to his first United States Hockey League goal. Trailing 2-1 with 11:15 remaining in regulation, the big defenseman stepped across the Cedar Rapids blue line and whizzed a high, hard shot past goalie Ben Blacker. The Black Hawks fans in attendance were exuberant, but the Hawks could never take the lead; instead, the RoughRiders broke the 2-2 tie a little more than four minutes later. Two empty net goals made the score look more lopsided than it was throughout the rest of the evening.
#3 – March 17th at Green Bay
We don’t know if Spaxman has any Irish in him, but he made a timely St. Patrick’s Day contribution as the Hawks visited the Green Bay Gamblers. Waterloo had led throughout most of the opening period, but the hosts tied the contest at 4:24 of the second. Less than two minutes later, Spaxman moved the puck up ice, providing the opportunity for Larry Jungwirth to feed Bryan Lemos for the go-ahead score. The goal proved to be the winner as the Hawks went on to a 4-1 decision, matching a then-season-long four-game winning streak. Spaxman was +2 during the affair.
#2 – December 5th at Fargo
The Fargo Force gave Spaxman his first crack at the USHL in 2013/14 as an affiliate, but he did not ultimately factor into their long-term plans. After going to the expansion Thunder, then to Waterloo, Spaxman found the scoresheet against his former team. In setting up the opening goal at Sheels Arena by Max Coatta at 11:54 of the first period, he sent his new club on their way to a 4-1 victory. Spaxman also tied with a team-best +2 differential that night. The victory ended a ten-game winless streak and was the first of six consecutive contests in which Spaxman contributed an assist.
#1 – January 23rd vs. Chicago
The Steel’s Tanner Laczynski scored the first goal of the night less than six minutes into a contest at Young Arena, but it was all Waterloo from there. Before the first period had concluded and with the game tied, Spaxman’s strong play at the offensive blue line kept a puck in the Chicago zone and led to the eventual game-winning goal by Henrik Rommel. Early in the second, the big defenseman struck for a goal of his own, firing a shot to the top corner. Spaxman finished the game with a career-best three points (goal, two assists) and +4 mark as Waterloo romped to a 7-1 victory.