Waterloo Black Hawks Weekly Preview
Three More, Starting Friday
The Black Hawks visit the Omaha Lancers Friday (7:05 p.m.) and then host a rematch on Sunday (3:05 p.m.). Sandwiched in between, Waterloo faces off for a Saturday (6:00 p.m.) road game versus the Des Moines Buccaneers. The Hawks have played each opponent twice during the 2020/21 season with a 0-1-1 record against Omaha and a 1-1-0 mark versus Des Moines. Waterloo's opponents one day are likely to be cheering for them the next, as the Lancers lead the Bucs by one point for third place in the USHL Western Conference standings. Saturday will be Waterloo's first trip to Buccaneer Arena since the building was damaged during the August derecho. A December meeting between the teams in Des Moines was played at Wells Fargo Arena.
Trying for Ten
Even after a weekend scoring outburst which included 13 goals in three games, the Black Hawks do not have an individual player with ten goals this season. Waterloo and the Youngstown Phantoms are the last two USHL clubs in that circumstance this winter. Owen Ozar and Kyler Kleven are tied for the team lead with eight goals; both scored versus Omaha earlier this year, although neither found the net versus Des Moines. Alex Gaffney also has eight goals: five as a Black Hawk and three as a Lancer prior to a January trade to Waterloo.
First Period Blues
Two of Waterloo's 13 goals last weekend were scored in the first period. Scoring during the opening 20 minutes has been sparse this season: a total of 18 first period goals ties with the Sioux City Musketeers for the lowest number in the USHL. Waterloo has trailed at the first intermission 16 times, while being either tied or in the lead on ten occasions.
Gaffney Getting It Done
Alex Gaffney has nine points (five goals, four assists) in 10 games as a Black Hawk after six points (three goals, three assists) in 17 appearances for the Omaha Lancers. Notably, eight of his nine points for Waterloo have come at even strength. In Omaha, all of his goals and one assist were on the power play. Following his trade to Waterloo, Gaffney picked up his first assist on January 19th against the Lancers.
The Hawks surged to wins last Friday and Saturday versus Dubuque and Tri-City respectively. Visiting the Fighting Saints, Ethan Szmagaj scored to break a 6-6 tie with under three minutes to go, pushing Waterloo to a 7-6 result. The next night, Ryan O'Hara found the net in the final minute to give the Hawks a 5-4 win. Tri-City claimed Sunday's rematch at Young Arena 2-0. Captain Dane Montgomery was Waterloo's leading scorer over the weekend with five points (two goals, three assists).
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