Liam Hawel was sitting in his hotel room Friday afternoon resting up for a game with his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds teammates against the Kitchener Rangers in a few hours.
Then the phone rang.
“My agent called and said Guelph had made an offer, so we took it and I came here quick,” Hawel said.
Six hours later the 17-year-old Arnprior native was wearing a Guelph Storm jersey in a 5-2 loss to the Windsor Spitfires at the Sleeman Centre.
“When I heard Guelph was interested I said “yeah” right away. I couldn’t turn it down.
“They’re a younger team and I’ll get a little bit more of an opportunity here than in the Soo, where they’re an older team,” Hawel said.
This is Hawel’s NHL draft year.
“I see a great future here and hopefully I can add to that,” he said. “I’m happy to be here and I’m excited to play for the team.”
The Storm traded 19-year-old defenceman Noah Carroll, a second round pick, a third round pick and a conditional third round pick to the Soo for Hawel and a third round pick.
“We liked him an awful lot in his draft year. He was a first round pick by the Soo for a reason,” Storm general manager Mike Kelly said of the 6-foot-5, 185-pound Hawel.
“We need a big puck-moving centre, he’s a right shot and he happens to be 17 years of age, so there’s a lot we like about him,” Kelly said.
The Storm GM said they had to give up a hefty price in Carroll, “at times our best defenceman,” but that the Storm isn’t challenging for a championship this year.
“We think we’re going to be a contender next year and certainly two years from now.”
Carroll played for the Greyhounds against Kitchener Friday, recording an assist in the Hounds overtime win.
Hawel played a regular shift and even saw some power play time in his Storm debut, despite not really having time to even learn many of their names.
He almost set up Luke Burghardt for a goal in the second period with a nice cross-ice feed.
In the Soo this year Hawel had six goals and eight assists in 38 games.
Friday’s game against the Spitfires was close for two periods, even though the Spitfires controlled most of the play and puck possession.
The visitors led 3-2 heading into the third but put the game on ice with a Jeremiah Addison goal 2:41 into the third.
The winner came at 19:12 of the third, a Graham Knott power play goal, one of two power play goals the Spits scored.
Ryan Merkley and Nate Schnarr scored for Guelph, both on the power play.
Liam Herbst was very solid in net, making 36 saves. Mike DiPietro made 25 for Windsor.
The Storm plays in Flint Saturday night then returns home for a 4 p.m. game Sunday afternoon versus the Sudbury Wolves.