Black Hawks Clinch Playoff Spot With Dramatic Victory
With five regular season games remaining, the Waterloo Black Hawks have officially secured a spot in the United States Hockey League's 2017 Clark Cup playoffs. They clinched a post-season berth with a dramatic 2-1 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints at Young Arena Saturday night (March 25, 2017).
The Black Hawks celebrated their 12th-straight home victory just as it appeared the game was heading to overtime. Shane Bowers, Waterloo's top point producer, scored the winning goal on a power play with 14.6 seconds left in regulation.
Through 40 minutes and more, Waterloo’s Peter Thome and Dubuque’s Jaxon Castor stopped everything. At the end of two periods, the two goaltenders had turned away 14 and 16 shots, respectively. Offensive chances were difficult to create in the stalemate.
The Saints broke through for the first goal at 8:11 of the final period. Zach Solow made his way up the rink during a short-handed situation and held onto the puck in the right corner of the Waterloo zone. From there, the USHL’s leading scorer centered and found Alex Steeves at the top of the crease. Steeves then knocked in the opening tally.
Waterloo evened the game at 1-1 during the same power play, just 1:15 later. Bowers and Emil Ohrvall seized control of the puck behind the Dubuque net. Ohrvall found enough room to shoot to Alex Limoges between the right circle and the crease. Castor slowed Limoges’ shot, but lunged backwards futilely as the ricochet bounced off of him and into the cage.
Stalled at 1-1, the Hawks went back to the power play in the final two minutes of regulation. With overtime looming, Mikey Anderson blasted a shot from the high slot. The disk made it through traffic, was parried away by Castor to his left, and landed perfectly for Bowers, who took a split-second to size up the opportunity before flipping the game-winner into the net.
Castor was the hard-luck loser with 24 saves, while Thome made 25 stops. Both teams finished with 26 shots on goal.
Despite the victory, Waterloo (36-15-4) remains five points behind Sioux City in the race for the Anderson Cup. The idle Musketeers clinched home ice advantage for the first round of the Clark Cup playoffs and moved a step closer to winning the USHL's regular season championship with a 6-3 win over Waterloo on Friday night.
UP NEXT: The Hawks wrap-up their three-game weekend with a road trip to Des Moines on Sunday (March 26). The puck for their meeting against the Buccaneers drops at 5:05 p.m.-CT.
Game Summary By Tim Harwood - Waterloo Black Hawks