Waterloo Black Hawks Preview is presented by Iowa Donor Network.
Finishing the Series
For weeks, the Tri-City Storm have remained tantalizingly out of the Waterloo Black Hawks’ reach in the USHL Western Conference standings. A sweep during this weekend’s two-game set would provide Waterloo the opportunity to move ahead or, alternatively, give Tri-City the points they need to pull away. The games represent the final matchups between the Hawks and Storm during the 2015/16 regular season. The Hawks have not completed their season set with any other Western Conference opponent. In Kearney, Nebraska, at the end of October, Waterloo claimed 3-2 (OT) and 4-1 wins. However, Tri-City’s best hockey has come on the road, where they are 9-5-2. Meanwhile, the Hawks are 7-2-2 on home ice. The Storm have earned at least one standings point from nine of their last ten games.
Hotte Hangs Tough
Goaltender Drew Hotte moved over .500 for the season in Waterloo’s 3-1 win against the Fargo Force on Saturday. Now 7-6-0, Hotte’s weekend effort dropped his goals-against average below 3.00 to 2.90. Last Thursday, Hotte came off the bench at the end of regulation to earn a relief victory, 4-3 in a shootout, against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. With a pair of shootout wins during his 14 appearances as a Black Hawk, Hotte is one of only five USHL goalies with more than one win in the tie-breaking situation.
January of 2015 changed the trajectory of the Black Hawks’ 2014/15 season. The arrival of Cale Morris on January 17th sent Waterloo off on a four-game winning streak, and ultimately to wins in 19 of the final 28 games on the schedule. For several veterans it was a month they are likely to remember fondly. Morris went 4-1-0 with one shutout and a 1.41 goals-against average. Ronnie Hein scored four goals in eight games, tying for the best goal-scoring month during his first season in Waterloo. Along the same lines, Niko Hildenbrand’s four assists also matched a one-month personal best.
Marshall Moise scored two goals Saturday against the Fargo Force, his second two-goal game of the season. In each of those contests, Moise has recorded the game-winner. All eight of the forward’s points (six goals, two assists) have been recorded in games against Western Conference opponents. That includes a goal against Tri-City on October 30th in Kearney.
The Hawks returned from the Christmas holiday with a 3-2 road loss against the Lincoln Stars, rebounding to edge the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, 4-3 in a shootout Thursday, and the Fargo Force, 3-1 on Saturday.
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