The Waterloo Black Hawks have two big games this weekend at Young Arena that could determine the USHL Western Conference regular season championship.


Contenders Clash:
The Sioux Falls Stampede won the USHL Western Conference regular season championship in 2012/13. The Black Hawks claimed that title the next year. As the Stampede visit Young Arena for games Friday and Saturday (both at 7:05 p.m.), the two clubs are vying for their first conference crowns since those respective seasons. Waterloo and Sioux Falls are among four teams still in contention. The Hawks opened the 2017/18 schedule with a 4-2 win versus the Stampede on October 7th. Sioux Falls won the most recent meeting, 3-2 in overtime last Friday. The clubs have two of the league’s most effective power plays: Waterloo ranks third at 23 percent, while the Stampede are fourth at 22.7 percent.

Home Wins:
The U.S. National Team Development Program has won 20 games on their home ice in Plymouth, Michigan. The Black Hawks are the only other USHL team able to earn 20 home victories this season. Waterloo is currently 19-7-1 with three home games remaining. Last winter, the Hawks won a league-high 24 home games. P.K. O’Handley’s teams have won 20 or more home games eight times between 2002/03 and 2016/17.

Rookie Leader:
Matej Blumel will be the Black Hawks’ highest-scoring rookie this season. In 48 games, Blumel has eight goals and ten assists. His three-point effort on Tuesday during Waterloo’s 4-3 win versus the Sioux City Musketeers was a personal best in the USHL. The native of Czech Republic is also on a three-game point streak. As defined by the USHL, a “rookie” is a player in his first year of NHL Draft eligibility or younger (born on or before September 16, 1999) who had appeared in fewer than ten USHL games before this season.

Late Comebacks:
In Tuesday’s win versus the Musketeers, the Black Hawks overcame a 3-2 second intermission deficit. It was the fourth time this season that the Hawks have rallied to victory after starting the final 20 minutes behind by at least one goal. The first of those games was against Sioux Falls on October 21st. Last season, Waterloo came back to win just twice under those circumstances; the last time the Hawks had four such dramatic comebacks was in 2012/13.

Weekly Recap:
For the fourth time this season, the Hawks and Stampede played a game settled by two goals or less. Sioux Falls edged Waterloo 3-2 in overtime Friday, but the Hawks returned to home ice to match a season-high with seven goals during a win versus the Dubuque Fighting Saints Saturday. Waterloo added a 4-3 home win Tuesday against Sioux City.

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