Waterloo Black Hawks Weekly Preview
Same Bucs, Different Building
The Waterloo Black Hawks and Des Moines Buccaneers have faced each other every season since 1980/81. In that time, the stalwart USHL organizations have met for more than 200 regular season games. Wednesday's initial matchup of this season (6:30 p.m.) will be the first time the Hawks and Bucs have skated in downtown Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena. The Buccaneers are presently 6-4-0 in their temporary home while repairs are in progress at Buccaneer Arena following the August 10th derecho. The two teams then meet again Thursday at Young Arena (6:05 p.m.) for the second half of the home-and-home series.
The Black Hawks have played at home on New Year's Eve annually since 1998. In that span, Waterloo has hosted Des Moines twice: the Hawks fell 5-3 in 2010 but wrapped up calendar year 2017 with a 5-2 victory. The 2017 meeting was defenseman Ethan Szmagaj's second appearance for Waterloo; playing at that time as an affiliate, Szmagaj has now skated in 123 USHL regular season contests. Prior to establishing Young Arena's New Year's Eve tradition, the Hawks visited the Bucs on December 31, 1981 (loss, 4-2) and 1991 (loss, 8-4).
Kleven Climbing the Stat Sheet
First-year forward Kyler Kleven is now tied for the Black Hawks' scoring lead. He has seven points (three goals, four assists) in ten games. That includes his current four-game point streak, which has been highlighted by two power play tallies and a game-winner. Owen Ozar and Max Sasson also each have seven points. Kleven and Ozar are the only Hawks with multiple power play goals at this stage of the season.
Points from the Point Men
A recent eruption of power play goals (seven in the last five games) can be associated in significant part with a pair of Hawks defenseman. Ethan Szmagaj and Cooper Wylie have each scored during that span. They both also have three power play assists. Szmagaj and Wylie's twin power play totals of four points apiece are currently tied for the team lead. Twenty of Szmagaj's 39 career USHL points have been recorded in man-advantage situations.
The refreshed Black Hawks returned from the Christmas holiday to record a pair of wins. Visiting the Sioux City Musketeers on Saturday, Max Sasson broke a 3-3 third period tie with the decisive score in a 4-3 road victory. He also notched an assist on Kyler Kleven's goal in the second. Monday, Waterloo followed up with a 5-2 decision against the Lincoln Stars as Sasson (two assists) and Kleven (goal, assist) each recorded multiple points. The win was Waterloo's first on home ice since February 8th (5-2 versus the Fargo Force).
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