Waterloo took the "fight" out of the "Fighting Saints" with wins at home on Friday night and on-the-road Saturday night and clinched the second seed for the USHL Western Conference playoffs.

Four goals in the final six minutes of regulation Saturday gave the Black Hawks a 6-2 win against Dubuque at Mystique Ice Center. Waterloo’s 39th win of the year came on Kyle Haskins’ decisive goal at 14:26 of the third period. The Black Hawks dug the puck out from behind the net, then Vladislav Firstov slung a pass, left to right from circle to circle, where Haskins was waiting to blast it in. Joe Cassetti followed with a redirection on Jacob Bengtsson’s shot at 15:58. Not quite a minute later, Vladislav Firstov came up right wing one-on-one, slipped past the defender, dodged a lunging Aaron Randazzo, and pushed the puck into an open goal. Teddy Lagerback added one more during a power play with 1:11 to go, swatting in the rebound of Brock Paul’s shot.

The Black Hawks had taken the lead twice earlier in the game but couldn’t pull away. James Marooney scored the first goal of the night at 8:03 of the first period. During a waning power play, Marooney’s shot clanked off the post and in. Matias Maccelli tied it at 10:52, benefitting when a shot by Bram Scheerer deflected his way; Maccelli was able to find the net. One minute and 20 seconds later, Waterloo retook the lead. Coming up right wing, Dane Montgomery sent a laser beam from the top of the right circle past Randazzo in transition. The 2-1 score held for a little more than a period until Will Knierim tied it shorthanded at 15:25 of the 2nd period.

Waterloo clinched the three-team Dupaco Cowbell Cup with a 2-1 win against Dubuque Friday at Young Arena. The Dupaco Cowbell Cup signifies hockey excellence in eastern Iowa. The trophy is annually contested between the Black Hawks, the Saints, and the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Friday’s win ties Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, but the Black Hawks own the tie-breaker and will keep the Cup for the third consecutive year.

All of the scoring came within the span of two minutes, 14 seconds early in the first period. James Marooney recorded the first goal at 3:37. Picking up the puck in the neutral zone along the right boards, he crossed the blue line in the middle of the ice. Marooney’s shot deflected off a defender’s stick, fluttering toward the goal. It went off Matthew Thiessen’s glove and over his shoulder as he tried to make a backhanded save. Joe Cassetti extended the lead during a power play at 4:52. Set up in the slot, Cassetti redirected Hank Sorensen’s shot. However, the Fighting Saints answered in transition 59 seconds later. Riese Gaber’s pass in transition hit a defender and caromed past Evan Fear.

The Black Hawks’ netminder stopped all of Dubuque’s other chances, making 26 saves for the win. That included 11 saves in the third period.

Waterloo awaits their playoff opponent for a best-of-five USHL Western Conference Semifinal series which will begin next weekend.

The visiting team at Young Arena will be determined by the results of two opening round series. Waterloo may meet the Sioux Falls Stampede, Des Moines Buccaneers, or the Fargo Force. The Black Hawks’ actual opponent will be unknown until at least Wednesday night, with a specific schedule of game dates to be announced as soon as possible.

The series could begin on Friday or Saturday. Regardless of the opponent, either Game One or Game Two will be played on Saturday, April 20th. Tickets for that night are on sale now. To order, stop into the Black Hawks front office or call (319) 232-3444.

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