WATERLOO — These are hockey skates. This is a hockey stick. You hit this hard, black rubberized disk with the hockey stick. Ice can be slippery.

It was probably not that rudimentary Monday when the Waterloo Black Hawks took to the Young Arena ice sheet for the first time as a team in preparation for the 2019-20 season.

USHL hockey: Black Hawks' Caponi excited to be back on the ice

Yet, Black Hawks head coach and general manager P.K. O’Handley was going to treat the 27 prospects in camp like it was their first day of hockey.

“It is no different than any other year,” O’Handley said. “We usually go four days and then go play an exhibition game. The first four days are really about habits and how we do things, just carry over from orientation camp.

“Every year is its own, I and the staff, told the players we are starting from square one. Today we are going to work on stationary passing and we will see if we get to moving. We are going to act like they don’t know anything and go from there.”

Waterloo has 27 skaters in camp, 24 healthy, vying for 23-roster spots.

The Black Hawks will have a veteran team returning with 16 veterans back, including goalie Logan Stein who went 16-6-1 with a 2.81 goals against average.

Back at the blueline are Jacob Bengtsson, Brehdan Engum, and Ethan Szmagaj.

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Of the nine returning forwards, five of them scored 20 or more points in 2018-19, Griffin Ness, Wyatt Schingoethe, Xander Lamppa, Kyle Haskins and Ryan Drkulec, and the other four combined to produce 24 goals and 28 points.

Additionally, Waterloo traded for Muskegon defenseman Nic Belpedio, who appeared in 48 games last season, and used a tender to add forward Matthew Argentina, and traded up to take Ryder Rolston second overall in Phase II of the United States Hockey League May entry draft.

Rolston, the son of 17-year NHL veteran Brian Rolston, appeared in 68 games with the USNTDP over the past two seasons scoring 35 goals and dishing out 21 assists. Rolston is committed to Notre Dame.

“Until you play an exhibition game I don’t think you have enough video to really say this is where we are, this is where we need to be and this is where we need to go,” O’Handley said. “We have an older group that has been here. We need to play a couple of exhibition games just to really look at structurally where we are at and then go from there.”

Waterloo travels to Omaha to play an exhibition game Friday, and hosts Madison on Sunday in its first home exhibition game.

Three players will be brought along slowly, forward Connor Caponi, forward Dane Montgomery and first-year defenseman Luke Bast, a native of Red Deer, Alberta who is a North Dakota commit.

Caponi was just cleared to resume hockey activities in early August after having surgery to repair a torn labrum.

“Luke and Dane are not ready, Caponi is close, but quite not ready to start full go” O’Handley said. “We will be cautious to start with.”

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