Where Are They Now Feature: Star Seniors

This week, Karen’s Print Rite presents a quick look at five former Black Hawks at the outset of their senior seasons who will be relied upon by their college teams during the coming winter.

Tony Cameranesi, Minnesota-Duluth  F

Hockey season started a day late for Minnesota-Duluth.  Last weekend, the Bulldogs were supposed to open their schedule on Friday night against Bemidji State, but a power outage forced the game to be postponed.  When the teams got together the next night, Cameranesi recorded an assist, but the Bulldogs fell, 3-2.

The former Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick has been the leading scorer during two of his three years at UMD, and has not missed a game during his time in Duluth.  Last winter, he paced the program with 21 assists and 30 points.  He was also at the top of the stat sheet during his freshman year, accumulating 34 points in 2012/13.  Cameranesi now needs just 14 goals or assists during the remainder of this year to reach 100 in his NCAA career.

Minnesota-Duluth’s schedule resumes this weekend with a home-and-home series against the University of Minnesota.  The slate continues with contests against Hockey East opponents Notre Dame and Massachusetts-Lowell before the NCHC conference opener with Nebraska-Omaha on November 6th.

Mark Naclerio, Brown  F

Brown University might accurately be considered “Waterloo Black Hawks-East.”  The program’s roster includes four former Waterloo skaters.  Both formally and statistically, Naclerio leads the Bears.  In 2014/15, he was the squad’s co-captain, a title he will hold outright when the puck drops for the season opener against Holy Cross on Halloween.

Naclerio has also consistently been a top scorer for Brown.  As a sophomore, he showed the way for Brown with 16 goals and 35 points.  Last season, Naclerio’s 23 points tied for the most on the squad.  His second appearance of this season will be the 100th of his NCAA career, and he needs only 19 points to reach the century mark in that category.  Naclerio has been particularly effective in ECAC regular season play, where 48 of his 81 points have been recorded.

With many ECAC teams starting well after college hockey’s opening weekend, the Bears dive into conference play November 6th and 7th against Dartmouth and Harvard respectively.

Jay Williams, Miami  G

The new schedule did not begin as Williams and his teammates would have hoped.  The senior goalie and his squad faced a formidable challenge: the defending NCAA champion Providence Friars.  Miami wound up on the short side of a 7-3 decision last Friday.

Still there is plenty of room for optimism that Williams’ final year at Miami could be the most memorable.  Last week, he was named to the Mike Richter Award Watch list.  The honor is presented annually and recognizes the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA Division I hockey.  Last season, Williams posted a 19-8 record with a 2.04 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. He allowed two goals or less in 20 of 28 appearances and finished tied for sixth in the country with five shutouts.

The RedHawks get back to action with a home-and-home series against in-state rival Ohio State.  NCHC conference play opens at St. Cloud State on October 30th.

Mitch Witek, Yale  D

As a freshman, Witek was part of a Yale squad which claimed the National Championship in 2013.  Now as a senior, he is the Bulldogs’ captain.  Expectations are high for the program once again this year; with a healthy crop of returning players, Yale was picked first in the 2015/16 pre-season ECAC Hockey media poll.

Witek has not posted eye-popping offensive stats during his college career, although he did score the game-winning goal during a conference playoff duel against Harvard last spring.  Over his four years in New Haven, Witek has four goals and 13 assists in 89 appearances.  He has been a contributing factor to the Bulldogs’ excellent defensive results; Yale was the NCAA’s top defensive team from 2014/15.

After two NCAA Tournament appearances during his first three years, Witek will try to take the Bulldogs back to the bracket this spring.  Their schedule begins on October 30th against Princeton.

Eddie Wittchow, Wisconsin  D

The Wisconsin Badgers were in unfamiliar territory during 2014/15.  The perennially strong program finished last in the Big 10, earning an overall record of 4-26-5.  As co-captain this season, Wittchow is charged with bringing the Badgers back to a prominent place on college ice.

Like Witek, Wittchow has not had a heavy offensive presence during his time in the NCAA.  With 93 appearances to his credit, he has recorded one goal and nine assists.  A more pressing necessity this year might simply be having the opportunity to lead from the ice.  Wittchow has been limited to fewer than 30 appearances during two of his first three college seasons.

Wisconsin opened their schedule last weekend with a pair of home ice draws against Northern Michigan, 2-2 and 3-3.  An exciting schedule follows, including road games this weekend against both Boston College and Boston University, tilts with college hockey’s newest Division I program Arizona State, and matchups against former WCHA rivals North Dakota and Denver.  The Big Ten season begins in Ann Arbor against the Michigan Wolverines on December 4th.

Other Black Hawks alumni preparing for their senior seasons include: Jamie Hill (New Hampshire), A.J. Michaelson (Minnesota), Aaron Pearce (Nebraska-Omaha), Blake Thompson (Minnesota State-Mankato).

Where Are They Now is presented by Karen’s Print Rite.  Mitch Witek photo courtesy of Yale University Athletics.

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