Thursday, September 22, 2016

UNH Freshman Liam Blackburn: Elite Playmaking Ability

Liam Blackburn
UNH Forward #26


In his three full seasons with the West Kelowna Warriors, Liam Blackburn became one of the top scorers in the history of the British Columbia Hockey League. In 163 regular season games, Blackburn scored 67 goals and 127 assists (1.19 PPG). Among the all-time leading scorers in the BCHL, Blackburn is tied for 37th in points and is 25th in assists. Add to that the 10 goals and 20 assists he tallied in 34 playoff games and Liam Blackburn's grand total is 224 points in 197 games.

In several respects, Liam Blackburn's career trajectory and skills set resemble those of former UNH star Grayson Downing (Iowa Wild, AHL). Downing is also a native of British Columbia and played three seasons with the BCHL Warriors. Downing was a year younger (ages 16-18) than Blackburn (ages 17-19) during their BCHL careers. Overall, Downing scored 73 goals in 157 games (0.46 Goals Per Game) while Blackburn netted 77 goals in 197 games (0.40 GPG). Liam Blackburn was more prolific than Downing in the assists category. Blackburn distributed 147 assists overall (0.75 Assists Per Game) while Downing produced 75 assists (0.48 APG).

Both Blackburn and Downing are left-shot forwards who primarily play center. Both excel in faceoffs, playmaking, puck control in tight spaces, and special teams' play. At UNH, Grayson Downing became a member of the Century Club scoring 56 goals and 56 assists in 144 NCAA games. Liam Blackburn certainly has the potential to match that production as a Wildcat.

As a 17-year-old, BCHL rookie in 2013-14, Liam Blackburn posted 17 goals and 26 assists in 47 regular season games. Six of his goals were game-winners - the second highest among all BCHL players. After a breakout 2014-15 season in which he tied for 6th in BCHL scoring (73 pts) and posted the third most assists (51), Liam Blackburn decided to play one more season with the West Kelowna Warriors. Last season, Blackburn replicated his regular season output scoring 27 goals and 47 assists (74 pts, T-9 BCHL scoring). He also tied for 4th in the BCHL in combined special team goals (11 PPG, 3 SHG).

In the 2015-16 playoff season, Liam Blackburn established himself as one of the premiere players in Canadian Junior A hockey. During the West Kelowna Warriors' run to their first BCHL Championship, Blackburn dished out the most assists (16) of any BCHL player and tied for 2nd in scoring (23 pts). Next, the Warriors won the Western Canada Cup against the champions of the Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey Leagues. Finally, West Kelowna completed an incredible playoff run by capturing the top prize in Canadian Junior A hockey - the Royal Bank of Canada Cup. Liam Blackburn was the leading scorer in the RBC Cup competition. In six games, Blackburn scored 4 goals, including 2 shorthanded, 1 even strength, and one shootout tally, plus 4 assists.

Liam Blackburn is listed at 5'10", 167 lbs. During his junior career, he primarily played center and occasionally left wing. Liam turned 20 years old last April.

Liam Blackburn
Last Team: West Kelowna Warriors
British Columbia Hockey League
DOB: 6-8-1996 Hometown: Prince George, British Columbia
Forward, 5'10", 175 lbs. Shoots Left
Commit to UNH: 10-7-2014 at Age 18 years, 4 months.
Signed National Letter of Intent: 11-19-2014

Scouting Report from Neutral Zone**

"Liam Blackburn has been a staple of offense in the British Columbia junior league for the past three seasons, totaling over 200 points in his career. What he lacks in size he makes up for in elite hockey sense, vision and playmaking ability. He is creative, instinctual and is able to find his teammates in high traffic areas and get them the puck. His delivery is quick and smooth and he always seems in control of the situation. His poise and awareness with the puck allow him to find open ice, wait for lanes to open and exploit defensive breakdowns. His head is always up and he doesn't hesitate when he has an opportunity. He will enroll at UNH in the fall of 2016 and on the olympic sheet should factor into the lineup as an immediate impact player."
Rating - 4 & 1/2 Stars out of 5 Stars.

National Ranking - Among the top 72, 1996-born forwards evaluated by Neutral Zone Scouts, Liam Blackburn was ranked #6.

According to, their national rankings break players down into birth years and ranks them against all other college hockey prospects throughout North America. Nationally ranked players have been seen by their Neutral Zone regional scout and then cross-referenced with a national Neutral Zone scout as well. Then the players are graded on over 20 different categories and put into the national database where they are tracked throughout the season. Every player on this list has been seen by multiple scouts in multiple viewings to arrive at their final rank.

** Reprinted by permission of Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting at Neutral Zone.

Scouting Report from International Scouting Services

"Skilled offensive forward … good vision … very good agility … can handle the puck in traffic … good hockey sense … dangerous on the power play and penalty kill"

BCHL Achievements

~ 2014 BCHL All-Rookie Team.
~ 2015 BCHL Second Team All-Star.
~ 2016 BCHL and RBC Cup Champions.
~ BCHL "Player of the Week" May 16, 2016.

2015-16 BCHL Highlight Reel

Junior Hockey Statistics

Player Season Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Liam Blackburn  (F) 2015-16 West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 58 27 47 74 51
Playoffs BCHL 24 7 16 23 14
WCan Cup CJHL 5 0 0 0 2
RBC Cup CJHL 6 4 4 8 2
2014-15 West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 55 22 51 73 34
Playoffs BCHL 4 1 2 3 0
2013-14 West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 47 17 26 43 14
Playoffs BCHL 6 2 2 4 0

Links to Articles on Liam Blackburn

High-scoring Liam Blackburn Commits to UNH

UNH Recruit Liam Blackburn Signs NLI

Liam Blackburn Plans Fall 2016 Arrival at UNH


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