The quest for the USHL Clark Cup Championship hits Waterloo this weekend. The Waterloo Black Hawks host Game 3 and 4 this Friday and Saturday inside Young Arena.

Storm Series:
The Black Hawks return to Young Arena for their third and fourth home games during the 2016 Clark Cup Playoffs. Waterloo’s series against the Tri-City Storm is tied at one win apiece. In the event of a split Friday and Saturday evening, the best-of-five set would be completed at Viaero Center in Kearney, Nebraska, on Tuesday. During the opening round, the Hawks protected home ice during twin 4-3 victories over the Lincoln Stars. The Storm played just one road game during their first series, completing a three-game sweep of the Sioux Falls Stampede with a 4-1 decision on April 22nd. During the regular season, Tri-City accumulated a Western Conference-high 39 points during road games; Waterloo had the third-highest home total at 37.

Four By Four:
Four Waterloo forwards lead the Black Hawks’ offense with four postseason points apiece. The group includes Ronnie Hein, Sam McCormick, and Nick Swaney (each two goals and two assists), plus Ryan Lohin (one goal and three assists). While Waterloo is the only active playoff team without a player at five or more points, the Hawks have enjoyed notable scoring balance; 14 skaters have at least one goal or assist.

Winning Close:
All three of Waterloo’s first round wins against the Lincoln Stars were by one goal margins. In Game Two of the Hawks’ current series, an empty net goal extended the differential to two goals. On only two other occasions in the organization’s junior era history has Waterloo won four postseason games within the first two rounds by margins of two goals or less: 1980 and 2012. Steady goaltending by Cale Morris has made the close wins possible. Morris leads the USHL with 200 playoff saves.

Late-Game Differential:
Nick Swaney’s empty net goal against Tri-City with 6.9 seconds remaining in Game Two is the only Black Hawks score during a third period in the current playoffs. Waterloo is even with their collective opponents in aggregate scoring during the first and second periods (5-5 and 6-6 respectively), but trail 6-1 in total third period goals. However, three of the six third period goals against have been empty-netters.

Weekly Recap: 
Tri-City opened the second round series against the Hawks with a 4-0 win, featuring 32 saves by Jake Kielly. The Storm scored twice into an empty net after Cale Morris had made 39 saves in the first 59 minutes. However, in Game Two it was Morris finishing with 32 saves and the win as Ben Newhouse, Yuri Terao, and Nick Swaney provided the scoring in a 3-1 result. The Storm’s Carson Meyer was the only player to record a goal in both games.