Tag Archives: Lee Sweatt

Calder Cup chase ends for Sweatt

Photo: Bill Sweatt, shown here in earlier season action against Abbotsford, excelled locally in 2011-12 for the Chicago Wolves, who saw their season end on Friday to San Antonio in the Calder Cup Playoffs’ first round. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

First year with Chicago’s Wolves ends in first-round defeat
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—If it’s not navigating the puck or avoiding checks into the boards, it’s packing boxes.

The activity never stops for the Elburn native Bill Sweatt, moving back to Colorado Springs for the offseason, after his 2011-12 season with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves that ended in the fifth game of the first round Calder Cup series against the San Antonio Rampage on Friday.

“We were down 2-0 in the series, and won games three and four, and took it to double-overtime in game five before we lost,” Sweatt said. “It was great to play in Chicago, and I was able to show teammates the area a little bit. I enjoyed every second of it.”

A left-wing, Sweatt was the Blackhawks’ next draft pick after Patrick Kane in 2007, and was involved in a trade with former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before the 2010-11 season, Bill and brother Lee signed with the Vancouver Canucks organization and starred for the AHL affiliate Manitoba Moose.

With the Winnipeg Jets returning to the National Hockey League, Vancouver switched its top affiliate to the Wolves, giving Sweatt a chance to play at home, of sorts.

“Hockey is big here, like it was when I was growing up. The Blackhawks have new ownership and won the Cup, and youth hockey seems bigger here. It’s more intense,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt scored 16 goals and supplied 18 assists on Wolves duty, with a goal and assist in the five-game playoff series that ended with a 3-2 loss.

Sweatt has played internationally as well as in Winnipeg, Manitoba last year, and even got called up for the parent club for two games in 2011-12.

The former Colorado College star has an idea of a common thread in any playing environment.

“Everywhere is different. We had really good fans here, and it was sold out most games (at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.). Internationally, though, instead of booing something they don’t like, they’ll whistle,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt feels good about being with the Vancouver organization, which saw an abrupt end to its Stanley Cup dreams with a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

“They had someone present at a lot of the games, mostly before the trade deadline. It motivates you a little more when you see someone from the office there,” Sweatt said.

Sweatt played under the coaching eye of Craig MacTavish, a player on four Stanley Cup teams, and a former coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

“He wasn’t a screamer; he only really got on us when we had a five- or six-game losing streak,” Sweatt said. “He was on an even keel and would really work with us individually.”

Sweatt and the Wolves will try to rebound next year for their first Calder Cup since 2008.

“I think we never changed our style of play, even after being down 2-0. We were able to push it to game five, and San Antonio is a good team. We were still a good team at the end,” Sweatt said.

In the meantime, it’s time for some “R and R” before Sweatt’s nuptials in August. Then it’s back to the grind for Sweatt, who has a year left on his original deal with the Canucks.

If that means suiting up for a squad by where he once called home en route to skating on NHL ice, so be it.

“It was great to get there (into the NHL). My end goal is to stay there, not just for two games,” Sweatt said.

Manitoba hockey team has case of the SWEATTS

Elburn native Bill Sweatt battles with Chicago Wolves goaltender Peter Mannino but comes up empty in the shootout portion of the Manitoba Moose 2-1 loss at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. Sweatt, a left winger, is contributing to the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks as its fourth-leading scorer.
Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
ROSEMONT, Ill.—Look a little close to see which team is the home favorite.

On Nov. 30, the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League took the Allstate Arena ice for the 24th time in the 2010-11 season, but it wasn’t against an ordinary opponent.

Their foe was the Vancouver Canucks’ top affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, featuring brothers Bill and Lee Sweatt, who have taken to the ice for the first time this season as professional teammates.

Originally from Elburn, and now based in Colorado, the Sweatts saw big minutes of ice time, but saw their efforts fall just short in a 2-1 loss that went to a shootout. Bill was the last Moose entry of five to aim for Wolves goaltender Peter Mannino, but was stopped. Chicago’s Darren Haydar scored for the only goal past Eddie Lack for the final result.

Seasoned hockey players will tell you ‘that’s hockey’ but coming to the suburban Chicago area for the first time as pro teammates made a cold November night anything but ordinary.

“That’s exactly what it is,” Lee said. “We just didn’t score enough goals.

Playing for the biggest pro hockey team in hockey-crazy Manitoba, the Sweatts can provide what a phenomenon playing the national sport can truly be.

“It’s way different,” Bill said. “Chicago’s getting a little hockey-crazy because of the Hawks, but it’s just on a different level. They’re obsessed with it.”

The Moose (12-9-0-3) currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference’s North Division and got a goal from center Cory Hodgson with 5:59 remaining in the second period, only to be matched by Jason Krog’s shot with 2:25 remaining in regulation.

But both Sweatts put their franchise in a position to win with needed contributions. Rookie Bill has 13 points with five goals and eight assists as the fourth-leading point gatherer on the squad, while Lee has four goals and four assists as the sixth-leading points nabber.

Bill, 22, was the second-round pick of the Blackhawks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, behind the first-round pick of Patrick Kane, but after sticking with his standout college hockey career at Colorado College (CC), he found himself traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Kris Versteeg. Waiting until ownership of his rights expired, Sweatt signed with Vancouver, capping a crazy stretch.

“Absolutely, I’m happy,” Bill said. “No matter what happened, I knew I was going to have to play in the minors and work my way up and learn the pro game a little bit, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Lee, 25, who played at CC with his brother for a year and was undrafted, enjoys playing in North American after making the rounds in Latvia, Austria and Finland over the last four years.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be in Finland and Austria. I would say they all have their pros and cons, Riga (Latvia) has the wildest fans, but I like Winnipeg. The fans are great there.”

The Moose, with Sweatts in tow, return to Rosemont on March 6, 2011.

Elburn native Lee Sweatt does what he can as defenseman during the Manitoba Moose 2-1 shootout loss to the local Chicago Wolves on Nov. 30 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. He graduated from Colorado College like his younger brother, Bill, and spent last year split between teams in Latvia and Finland. Photo by Ben Draper

Sweatt dealt to Maple Leafs in Versteeg trade

For those hoping that one day they would see Elburn-bred Bill Sweatt putting on the Indian head sweater of the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, commence disappointment.

However, there now exists an opportunity for the Colorado College graduate to make inroads to the National Hockey League another way: through Toronto.

The Blackhawks, in an ongoing attempt to navigate out of salary cap difficulties, included the 2007 second-round draft pick’s rights in a trade that sent playoff asset Kris Versteeg to the Maple Leafs for Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.

Sweatt, who scored 15 goals and 33 points in 39 contests for the Tigers in his senior season, was an economics major.

Sweatt participated in the Blackhawks prospect camp in 2008 at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Ill. and in 2009 at Johnny’s Ice House in Chicago.

The 21-year old was selected 38th overall in 2007, just 37 picks behind Stanley Cup hero Patrick Kane.

In other Sweatt news, Bill’s older brother Lee will compete for a spot with the Vancouver Canucks after signing in May. Lee spent the 2009-10 season in Europe.

Bill Sweatt
Left wing
Born: Sept. 21, 1988
Selected 38th overall by Blackhawks in 2007

Photo: Elburn native Bill Sweatt, shown here at a previous Blackhawks prospect camp, was dealt June 30 to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Kris Versteeg in the continued restructuring of the Stanley Cup Champions’ roster. File Photo