This article has been updated with additional information from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Cornell Athletics.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, has signed former Cornell men’s hockey captain Christian Hilbrich ’16 to an AHL contract for the 2016-17 season, according to a press release from the Penguins
Hilbrich joins classmate Reece Willcox, who was drafted in 2012 by the Philadelphia Flyers, as the lone members of their class to reach the professional level.
The Penguins have a history with Cornellians, as Hilbrich’s teammate rising sophomore forward Anthony Angello was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2014. Both Hilbrich and Angello will be in attendance at the NHL team’s development camp for prospects this week, according to Cornell Athetics.
Hilbrich’s signing also marks the fourth consecutive year a Cornell alumnus has been on contract with the Penguins. Forward John McCarron ’15 spent the 2015-16 season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and defenseman Nick D’Agostino ’13 played for the Penguins from 2013 to 2015.
Hilbrich, who played a total of 107 games in a Cornell uniform, quite literally towered over the opponents with his six-foot-seven frame, which has become a staple of his athletic abilities.
He finished with 25 goals and 21 assists over his four-year collegiate career, the most points out of the four players in the graduated senior class. He was selected as one of four captains, along with his fellow classmates, during his senior year.
A career highlight for Hilbrich came this past season in game two of the ECAC quarterfinals against No. 1 Quinnipiac — Hilbrich’s brother, Tom, spent his college career here — when he tallied the game tying goal and later assisted on the game winner.
A leader on the ice, Hilbrich racked up accolades for his leadership off the ice as well. His sophomore, junior and senior year, he was presented with the Wendell & Francelia Earle Award for top student in his class. He was also one of 10 finalists and was later named Second Team All-American for the Senior CLASS Award, a premier NCAA award for senior student-athletes.
Hilbrich was also awarded with the Mark Weiss Memorial Award, which is given to the senior with a career-long dedication and passion for the sport of hockey, to top off a remarkable career in Ithaca.