One year ago Collin Delia had just wrapped up his first Blackhawks prospect camp, hoping to improve off a sophomore season at Merrimack College where he struggled in net.
Fast forward to this summer and Delia, who responded in a major way as a junior, is now joining the professional ranks after signing a two-year deal with the Blackhawks on Friday, the team announced.
After playing well in limited ice time as a freshman, Delia became the full-time starter for the Warriors as a sophomore. But he had his growing pains in a new role, going just 8-12-6 while allowing 2.96 GAA. That number ranked 12th of 15 in the Hockey East League, and his .889 save percentage ranked dead last.
But Delia's struggles as a sophomore were non-existent as he returned to Merrimack for his junior season. He rose from the bottom to the top of the conference in save percentage (.927) and ranked third in GAA (2.15). His GAA ranked 14th in the nation and his save percentage ranked 9th nationally.
He recorded three shutouts (he had none as a sophomore), including a 33-save performance in a 2-0 road victory over Wisconsin, and was named a Hockey East Third Team All-Star.
The Blackhawks clearly noticed his improvements as a junior as he arrived last week for his second round of Blackhawks prospect camp.
Last year the Blackhawks signed Alexandre Fortin out of prospect camp. As Insider Tracey Myers wrote last week, Fortin could force his way onto the Blackhawks roster this summer.
Gustav Forsling couldn't have picked a better night to record three points, including the game-winning goal.
Forsling helped the Blackhawks snap their five-game losing streak with a big, comeback win in overtime against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night at the United Center.
Already with a helper on Alex DeBrincat's goal in the second period, Forsling made his presence known in the third period and overtime.
With the Blackhawks on the penalty kill and trailing 2-1, Tommy Wingels redirected Forsling's shot from the point with 3:22 left in the third. Tie game.
Then in overtime, with 4.9 seconds left, Forsling sealed it when another shot from the point went under the pads of Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner. Ballgame. Blackhawks win 3-2.
Entering Friday, the Blackhawks were 0-3-2 in their last five games. It was their worst losing streak since 2011-12, when they lost nine games in a row.
Could the Blackhawks — who are now 13-11-5 and fifth in the Central Division — have used a bigger win than that?
"We had to win," coach Joel Quenneville said after the game.
Was this game the Blackhawks needed to turn things around?
After missing three games with a lower-body injury, Corey Crawford will return between the pipes when the Blackhawks begin a three-game homestand Friday against the Buffalo Sabres.
It's a nice confidence boost for a Blackhawks team looking to snap a five-game losing streak.
"It's huge," Duncan Keith said. "Obviously he's been great all year and for the last several years for us. A big part of our success. We know that when he's in net there, he makes those big saves when we need them. I think it gives everybody more confidence knowing we've got a guy back there that can make those type of saves and keep us in it even when we're not at our best."
The Blackhawks also recalled Vinnie Hinostroza from the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, the team announced Friday, after Tanner Kero cleared waivers.
Hinostroza was averaging nearly a point-per-game in Rockford, where he led the team with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 23 games, and had a plus-7 rating.
His offensive production in the AHL was too difficult to ignore, and the Blackhawks felt it was finally time to add him into the mix as they continue to search for some consistency up front.
"I just want to take it day by day, work hard to get back here," Hinostroza said. "Hard work's not over. I just want to come to the rink every day and still work hard and prove I belong here.
Hinostroza will certainly bring an element of speed to the four-line rotation, and maybe provide more balance.
It's unclear whose spot Hinostroza will take in the lineup because he didn't participate in morning skate, but expect him to play on the third line.
Alex DeBrincat was moved up to the top line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad while Nick Schmaltz was reunited with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane on the second line.