The Waterloo Black Hawks travel to Nebraska to take on the Tri-City Storm for the 2016 United States Hockey League Western Conference championship. Play begins Friday.

The winner of the best-of-five series advances to the 2016 USHL Clark Cup Finals.

2016 USHL Western Conference Schedule:

  • Game 1: Friday, 4/29 at 7:05 p.m. at Viaero Events Center
  • Game 2: Saturday, 4/30 at 7:05 p.m. at Viaero Events Center
  • Game 3: Friday, 5/6 at 7:05 p.m. at Young Arena
  • Game 4 (if necessary): Saturday, 5/7 at 7:05 p.m. at Young Arena
  • Game 5 (if necessary): Tuesday, 5/10 at 7:05 p.m. at Viaero Events Center

Another New Beginning:
After opening the playoffs with a four-game series win against the Lincoln Stars, the Black Hawks advance to face the Western Conference-winning Tri-City Storm in a new best-of-five beginning Friday. Tri-City achieved a conference-high 73 points during the regular season, then swept the Sioux Falls Stampede during the first round. Storm goalie Jake Kielly allowed just three total goals during the opening series. Tri-City was the only team able to successfully protect home ice during the first round.

Waterloo was 3-1-0 in the regular season against the Storm, with two Hawks victories earned in overtime. The teams have not met since January 9th, the longest interval from Waterloo’s most recent matchup against any USHL Western Conference opponent.

Finding Balance:
Ten different Black Hawks recorded a point during Waterloo’s first round series against the Lincoln Stars. The offense was spread evenly: no player had more than four points, but eight had two or more. Goals were similarly varied: no Hawk had more than two, but seven had at least one. Entering the second round series with Tri-City, the Storm’s Dan Labosky will be the highest-ranking playoff point-producer on the ice for either team, with a goal and five assists.

Overtime Trends: 
The Black Hawks’ double-overtime win against the Lincoln Stars in Game Four broke some trends. Dating back to 2008, Waterloo had lost five consecutive postseason trips to bonus hockey; the last win had been a series-clinching second round decision against the Chicago Steel in April 27th of that spring. The Hawks are now 8-14 in playoff overtimes during the organization’s junior era and 4-2 in games which have gone to multiple overtimes. P.K. O’Handley has been behind the bench for three double-overtime wins.

Rare Shorty:
Mikey Anderson recorded a key shorthanded goal in Game Four. The effort allowed Waterloo to take a brief 2-1 lead. During the 2015/16 regular season, the Hawks scored two shorthanded goals. The last shorthanded goal by a Waterloo defenseman – regular season or playoffs – was notched by Alec McCrea on February 21, 2014 against the Fargo Force. Vince LoVerde was the last Hawks blue-liner to do it in the postseason during a game against the Chicago Steel exactly nine years earlier on April 24, 2007.

Weekly Recap:
Twin 4-3 home ice victories lifted the Black Hawks past the Lincoln Stars. Ronnie Hein led the scoring in Game Three with a goal and two assists. Hein then scored the winner in double overtime during Game Four. Cale Morris made 38 saves during Game Three, then followed up with 49 in Game Four.