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Black Hawks Rookie Making Russia Return

Wednesday August 8, 2012

Waterloo Black Hawks rookie forward B.J. Salerno.

B.J. Salerno may be new to the USHL, but not new to Russia

Even at a young age, hockey players find themselves on road trips that many times take them across the country.  For the Waterloo Black Hawks, they are about to begin the longest trip in team history, one that takes them quite a bit further than any bus ride during the USHL regular season.  When they fly to Russia for the 2012 Junior Club World Cup – with stops in Moscow and Omsk – it will be a new experience for nearly the entire team except for one player that is making a return trip to the country.

New Black Hawks forward B.J. Salerno first visited the capital city of Russia a few years ago when he was playing youth hockey for the Toronto Titans.  The team spent a week in Moscow playing against local teams in the Tretiak Cup tournament, named after the legendary goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.

“The teams were really good, but we only lost one game which was to the Russian Red Army team,” said Salerno.

It was a successful visit for the young players, even though they didn’t grow fond of the local cuisine.  Frequent visits to McDonald’s became the norm and provided the players with the comfort food of home.  Despite a mostly fast food diet, Salerno was on top of his game and added to the memorable trip by earning tournament MVP honors.  It left a good taste in his mouth as well as the sights away from the rink.

“We got to go around the city and see great places like Red Square,” said Salerno.  “There were so many people and it was a little hectic and crazy.  It was just a great experience.”

This summer, Salerno visited the city he will be spending the 2012-13 hockey season when attended the Waterloo Black Hawks training camp in June and the subsequent orientation camp two weeks ago.  As excited as he is about traveling abroad, the recently turned 17-year-old was equally thrilled with the town he will be calling home this season.

“I had a great time at the camp and all the people around the city were so nice,” said Salerno.  “The coaching staff is amazing and the talent of the players is incredible – much better than what I played in Toronto.”

The Black Hawks selected the forward in the sixth round (90th overall) of the 2011 USHL Futures Draft.  He is eager to earn the opportunity to play in the USHL and take advantage of elite development path the League provides.

“I wanted to play in the League because it is a really high-tempo game and that plays to my strengths as a hockey player,” said Salerno.  “I have heard so many great things about the USHL and thought it would really help my career.”

Salerno has plans after his days in the USHL to play collegiate hockey and has verbally committed to the University of Maine, but right now he is focused on the present and the impending trip to Russia.  The trip he says had created a “buzz” in the Waterloo Black Hawks locker room during camp.

The Black Hawks rookie may be declared the unofficial tour guide for his team when they step off the plane in Moscow, although he mentions that not many people on his USHL team know of his prior visit to Russia.  When he first learned of the team’s plans to participate in the Junior Club World Cup, Salerno’s parents mentioned to the Black Hawks coaching staff about the previous trip to Russia, but the young forward hasn’t spread that news to many of his teammates.

Well, that information is no longer a secret.

He prefers to stick with the title of hockey player rather than tour guide on this trip, but he may not be shy about suggesting ideas for souvenirs to his Waterloo Black Hawks teammates.  He didn’t leave Russia the first time without picking up a special piece of headwear.

“I got one of those Russian hats,” said Salerno.  “The ones made from fur and have ear flaps that tie on top of the hat.”

Related story: Black Hawks Prepare for Historic Road Trip


Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrated its 10th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2011-12.  With 28 picks during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and over 280 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL has emerged as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.  For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive).  Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).

It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.

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