Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whalers sign Illinois forward Vanderwiel

The Plymouth Whalers have announced the signing of 16-year-old left wing Danny Vanderwiel, who was selected by the Whalers in the eighth round (144th overall) of the 2011 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Vanderwiel – 5-foot-11 and 199 pounds from Island Lake, Ill. (northwest of Chicago) – scored 10 goals with 11 assists for 21 points and 87 PIMs in 33 games for the Team Illinois U-16s last season. He attended the Whalers rookie orientation at Compuware Arena in May.

Vanderwiel also attended USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp last March, a camp featuring the top 1995-born players in the United States.

“Our scouts have a history of finding good players later in the draft and we really like what we’ve seen from Danny so far,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “He’s strong on his skates and competes hard.”

“Danny’s a good skater who plays a physical game in all areas of the rink,” said Plymouth assistant general manager Brian Sommariva. “He provides grit and has a skill set that we like in all of our players.”

Vanderwiel is ready to start the next chapter of his hockey career.

“This is one of the most exciting things to be happening to me so far,” Vanderwiel said of his signing in a telephone interview. “The feeling of signing a contract and the team sending you a jersey after the draft makes you feel like a professional.”

Vanderwiel enjoyed his experience at the Whalers rookie orientation, where he scored a goal with two assists in two scrimmage games.

“I was able to meet some of my older teammates – Tom Wilson and Matt Mahalak – and we went to one of the Memorial Cup games (in Mississauga, Ont.),” Vanderwiel said. “They seem like good guys. (On the ice), I didn’t want to be nervous – I tried to play with confidence. I’m an honest grinder or power forward. I feel like Plymouth will be a good fit.”

Vanderwiel will attend school during the 2011-12 season at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.

Photo by Rena Laverty/Plymouth Whalers

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