The Tri-City Storm scored a goal in the first two minutes of each period Tuesday, en route to a 5-3 win against the Waterloo Black Hawks at Viaero Center in Kearney.
The result gave the home team the best-of-five series, three-games-to-two. Tri-City now advances to meet the Dubuque Fighting Saints for the Clark Cup beginning this weekend.
The Storm opened the scoring just 1:37 into the game. A pass out of the left wing corner provided Max Humitz with the opportunity to roof his shot under the crossbar.
However, Waterloo scored twice to take a 2-1 lead to intermission. In the closing seconds of a Hawks power play, Mikey Anderson played a puck from the high slot to the side of the net; Yuri Terao’s touch pass from there left Liam Pecararo with an open side at 9:01. Just over three minutes later, Collin Saccoman put Waterloo in front. An offensive zone faceoff win left the Waterloo defenseman with the puck at the right point. Moving past a sliding shot block attempt by Dan Labosky, Saccoman rifled a half slapshot past Jake Kielly’s blocker side.
Tri-City seesawed to the lead in the first four minutes of the second period. The equalizer came from Wade Allison at 48 seconds, sending a well-placed shot from the bottom of the right circle off the crossbar and into the net. Brandon Duhaime put the Storm in front at 3:59, with a shorthanded rush that yielded a goal when he absorbed an open ice hit and still got a shot away.
Just 17 seconds into the third, Jake Wahlin added a crucial goal. Finding the rebound of a Duhaime shot in the slot, Wahlin knocked it in after Morris’ all-out effort to make the first save.
Tri-City remained ahead by two goals until 17:47. Just as the Hawks were bringing Cale Morris to the bench, Michael Davies’ long low shot slipped through traffic and past Kielly. However, Wahlin scored from his own blue line into an empty net just over a minute later to set the final score.
The Hawks’ 2016 postseason effort represented the seventh time in 13 seasons under Head Coach P.K. O’Handley that Waterloo has won four or more playoff games.
Waterloo 2 0 1 – 3
Tri-City 1 2 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Tri-City, Humitz 3 (Duehr, Cipollone), 1:37. 2, Waterloo, Pecararo 1 (Terao, Anderson), 9:01 (PP). 3, Waterloo, Saccoman 1 (Swaney, Hein), 12:06. Penalties-Rutherford Tc (tripping), 7:18.
2nd Period-4, Tri-City, Allison 4 (Labosky, Limoges), 0:48. 5, Tri-City, Duhaime 2 (Meyer), 3:59 (SH). Penalties-Labosky Tc (high sticking), 3:16; Labosky Tc (tripping), 7:59; Saccoman Wat (tripping), 14:33; Meike Wat (tripping), 15:21; Duhaime Tc (high sticking), 15:21.
3rd Period-6, Tri-City, Wahlin 3 (Duhaime, Meyer), 0:17. 7, Waterloo, Davies 1 (Terao), 17:47. 8, Tri-City, Wahlin 4 (Limoges), 18:58 (EN). Penalties-Duhaime Tc (checking from behind, 10-minute misconduct), 2:09; Lohin Wat (checking from behind), 4:06.
Shots on Goal-Waterloo 11-10-17-38. Tri-City 11-14-11-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Waterloo 1 / 4; Tri-City 0 / 2.
Goalies-Waterloo, Morris 5-4-0-0 (35 shots-31 saves). Tri-City, Kielly 6-2-0-0 (38 shots-35 saves).
Referees-Andrew Bruggeman (14), Bobby Lukkason (28).
Linesmen-Riley Bowles (92), Michael Houle (50).