Walleye reel in big Fish — ex-Komet Brandon Hawkins

Forward Brandon Hawkins, a former standout collegiately at Bowling Green and professionally with Fort Wayne, has agreed to terms with the Toledo Walleye for the 2021-2022 season.
The Macomb, Michigan native had originally signed with the Walleye last year and went on to Fort Wayne after the Walleye season was cancelled.
While with the Komets, Hawkins posted 39 points (23 goals, 16 assists) and helped them win the 2021 Kelly Cup with another 11 points (6G, 5A) in the postseason. In the 2019-2020 season he played against the Walleye while with Wheeling, collecting 33 points (16G, 17A). He has also skated in 21 AHL contests between Scranton and Rochester in two years professional.
 “Brandon is an elite goal scorer at our level. He’s an offensive threat every time he’s on the ice. Brandon is an exciting player to watch and our fans should be thrilled that he’s in a Walleye uniform this season. We are looking forward to working with Brandon to help him reach his maximum potential." coach Dan Watson said.
Prior to turning professional, the 27-year-old spent a pair of seasons with Bowling Green and Northeastern. In college, Hawkins had 108 points (46G, 62A) in 141 total contests, including 80 games played for the Falcons with 29 goals and 27 assists.
Two other forwards Keeghan Howdeshell and Conlan Keenan, have also signed with the Walleye.
Howdeshell, a native of Brighton, Michigan, joins the Walleye following a big 2019-20 campaign where he posted 37 points (13G, 24A) over 47 games in his first pro season with Rapid City. That year also featured one contest at the AHL level with Tucson.
Last year he skated in just four games for Jacksonville. Prior to turning professional, the 23-year-old had a strong two years in the OHL, averaging nearly a point-per-game with 113 (62G, 51A) in 127 contests for the Soo Greyhounds.
 “Conlan and Keeghan are both young professionals who are continuing to develop at the pro level. These two players will bring energy to the team and an eagerness to learn and get better each day. Conlan gained experience with Tulsa last season and Keeghan had a great rookie campaign in 2019-20, so I am excited to see these two players bring their best at training camp,” Watson said.
Keenan, the 26-year-old, got into 28 games this past year with the Tulsa Oilers, posting six goals and three assists for his rookie campaign. The native of Webster, New York dominated at the college level while playing four years for SUNY-Geneseo that included two seasons as team captain. In 110 college games, he posted 172 points (86G, 88A). Keenan was named Sunyac Conference Player of the Year in 2019-20, when he picked up 50 points (22G, 28A), third most in NCAA III that season.
The Walleye also picked up two defenseman — Chris McKay and Butrus Ghafari.
McKay, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, joins the Walleye after spending his first pro season with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the SPHL. In 32 contests he collected a pair of assists with 13 penalty minutes. McKay added in another assist in four playoff contests.
“Chris won a championship last season with Pensacola. This experience will help Chris continue his development at the next level. Chris is a big defender who can play many different roles on a team. I’m looking forward to seeing Chris compete during camp,” Watson said.
Prior to turning professional, the 25-year-old spent four years at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he played in at least 20 contests every season. McKay posted a career-best three goals with eight assists in 35 games as a senior in 2019-2020. The 6-foot-4, 214-pound defenseman totaled 123 games played for the Tigers with five goals, 23 assists, and 167 penalty minutes.
Ghafari, the West Bloomfield, Michigan native, started his pro career with the Walleye by appearing in one game prior to the end of the 2019-2020 season. He did play for Rapid City a season ago, appearing in 58 games with 10 points (1G, 9A) and 72 penalty minutes in his first full pro season.
"Butrus brings a very high compete level to practice and games. He has the desire to get better each day, whether that on or off the ice. He demonstrated last season that he can play in our league on a consistent basis. We look forward to working with Butrus for the upcoming season,: Watson said."
Prior to turning professional, the 25-year-old spent four years at Michigan State University with 114 total games played. Ghafari appeared in at least 20 games in each of his four years as a Spartan and posted four goals with five assists in his college career. The defenseman also had 200 games played in the USHL before heading to Michigan State, where he was a plus-21 from 2012-2016.


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