Where Are They Now Feature: International Defensemen’s European Vacation

Karen’s Print Rite presents an update on former Hawks teammates reunited and representing the United States this weekend.

Two former Waterloo Black Hawks are on the 21-man roster for the 2015 U.S. Men’s Select Team that will compete for the Deutschland Cup beginning Friday in Augsburg, Germany.

Defensemen Blake Kessel and Chad Billins were each named to the squad in late October.  The former Waterloo teammates helped the Hawks to the Clark Cup Championship Series in 2008.  During those playoffs Kessel led Waterloo with 11 points, while Billins ranked third with nine.

In the winner-take-all fifth game of the championship round, the tandem combined to record a dramatic third period goal against the Omaha Lancers.  With the Hawks trailing 3-2 and just over seven minutes remaining, Billins batted a bounding puck into the net off an assist from Kessel.  The goal ultimately forced overtime, where Omaha prevailed, 4-3, and won the series.

The 2007/08 season was Billins’ lone year in Waterloo. Kessel was also part of the Black Hawks’ Anderson Cup Championship effort in 2006/07.

All 21 players on this weekend’s Deutschland Cup roster are currently participating in European elite leagues.

Kessel is in Finland with Tampereen Ilves, where he spent a portion of the 2014/15 campaign.  With the club on a fulltime basis this season, the former University of New Hampshire All-American has two goals and an assist in 19 games.  He ranks second on the team in average ice time at 19:26 per game.  The squad is currently just under .500 at 7-8-4 (w-l-t).

Billins is one of 12 players on the 2015 U.S. Men’s Select Team with NHL experience, and is playing just across the border from Kessel for Linkopings HC in Sweden.  Through 15 games, Billins is the Lions’ fourth-leading scorer, and tops among defensemen, with three goals and eight assists.  In 2014/15, the former Calgary Flames blueliner and Ferris State captain split his season between teams in Russia and Sweden.

The United States won the 2013 Deutschland Cup.  This year, the event schedule opens with a matchup against Slovakia.  The U.S. will also meet Switzerland and Germany on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Where Are They Now is presented by Karen’s Print Rite.

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