The Waterloo Black Hawks became the first United States Hockey League Western Conference team with 30 victories in 2016/17.

Waterloo kicked off the weekend with a 5-2 win at Young Arena Friday against the Bloomington Thunder. The Black Hawks host the Omaha Lancers tonight (Feb 25, 2017).

The Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Steel also reached the 30-win milestone Friday, matching Waterloo’s accomplishment and equaling the Hawks for the top USHL win count currently.

Bailey Conger fired the only goal of the first period under the crossbar just 1:17 after the opening faceoff. Conger let go of his shot from the edge of the right circle, bringing the puck back into the zone after it had been out to center just momentarily.

Late goals in the second changed the score, but not the margin by the time the middle period ended. With 2:27 remaining before intermission and the Hawks on a power play, Mikey Anderson flipped a waist-high pass to Kevin Charyszyn near the side of the net. The forward gloved it down and flipped a shot past Gabriel Mallot-Hill. However, with 55.1 seconds to play, an intentionally wide shot was deflected into the Black Hawks net by Alec Mehr, bringing the Waterloo lead back to one at the break. Just four minutes earlier, Peter Thome had made his best save of the night, gloving Mehr’s shot which had originated from between the hash marks.

At 2:13 of the third, Jackson Cates recorded the Black Hawks’ goal which proved to be the winner, stepping into Thunder territory and planting the puck in the nylon on a low shot to the stick side.

A bad break brought Bloomington within one for a final time at 6:55. Wyatt Kalynuk’s shorthanded, sharp-angled chance was turned aside into the slot, but it hit a Black Hawks defender and skidded across the goal line.

During the same Waterloo power play however, the Hawks reestablished a two-goal lead when Jake Ryczek’s rocket from the high slot flew past Mallot-Hill’s glove at 7:44. Garrett Klee squeaked a final shot through the Thunder netminder from the right circle at 13:31.

The Hawks wrap up their college weekend Saturday against the Omaha Lancers. Tickets for college students are $8 on game day and can be ordered from the Domino’s Black Hawks Box Office by calling (319) 291-7680. The game will also feature the Hawks’ first “Socks for Sail” event where fans toss new pairs of socks onto the ice after Waterloo’s first goal for the benefit of homeless men, women, and children in the Cedar Valley.

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