After winning the 2013-2014 United States Hockey League Anderson Cup, the Waterloo Black Hawks are ready for Round One of the USHL Clark Cup Playoffs.  This weekend (April 11-12), the Black Hawks host the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Starting Over with Sioux Falls:
The Sioux Falls Stampede – Waterloo’s first round playoff opponent – were one of five teams that the Black Hawks faced on six occasions during the regular season.  The Hawks claimed five wins, including two overtime results.  The best-of-five postseason set begins with games at Young Arena on Friday and Saturday.  With the Anderson Cup for the league’s best record, the Black Hawks also claimed the USHL Western Conference title.  The Stampede were the previous Western Conference Champions in 2012/13.  The Hawks and Stampede have met for only one prior postseason game: the last time Waterloo won the Anderson Cup in 2006/07, Sioux Falls edged the Hawks during a single, winner-take-all Clark Cup Championship Game.


USHL Playoff Veterans:
Ten Black Hawks players have USHL postseason experience.  The group includes five forwards and three defensemen.  Combined, those skaters recorded four goals and five assists during last spring’s five-game series against the Fargo Force.  Waterloo’s most notable playoff participation has been in goal; Cal Petersen claimed both of the Hawks’ playoff victories in 2014, while Cameron Johnson posted a 4-3 record, including one shutout, while helping Fargo to reach the 2013 Clark Cup Finals.

USHL Playoff Newcomers:
Although a little less than half of the Black Hawks roster has skated in a USHL playoff game, several members of the squad have been on the ice for other high-intensity games.  Defenseman Brandon Montour appeared in 50 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League postseason contests over three years and helped the Brantford Golden Eagles to the Sutherland Cup Finals in 2012.  Peter Krieger won a pair of Minnesota Class A state championships in 2011 and 2012 at St. Thomas Academy.  John Wiitala – who did not appear in last season’s USHL playoffs – helped Lakeville South to third place in the Minnesota AA tournament in 2012.  Patrick Russell represented Denmark at the 2011 and 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Final Rankings:
Waterloo ended the year second in USHL scoring (4 goals/game) and third in scoring defense (2.6 goals allowed/game).  The Hawks led the circuit in power play offense, converting 25.2% of chances, and were eighth on the penalty kill (81.7%).  Black Hawks spent just 11.5 minutes per night in the box, lowest in the USHL.

Weekly Recap:
A pair of vital wins against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders brought the Anderson Cup to Waterloo.  The Hawks prevailed 5-1 on Friday, then claimed Saturday’s contest 3-2 in a shootout.  Peter Krieger and Brandon Montour each totaled four points.  Cal Petersen and Cameron Johnson shared the crease for one win each.