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WATERLOO — A berth in the United States Hockey League was secured.

The Waterloo Black Hawks foot, however, will remain on the gas pedal with seven regular-season games left.

A strong start and finish saw the Black Hawks clinch their playoff berth and regain their lead in the Western Conference with a 6-3 victory over the Sioux City Musketeers Saturday at Young Arena.

“Got to stay on the gas. We have no choice but to stay on it,” Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley said.

Joey Cassetti scored twice, and Waterloo scored three times shorthanded as the Black Hawks improved to 5-0 against the Musketeers.

The Black Hawks are 32-15-7 and their 71 points are two more than Fargo in the Western Conference and four fewer than the United States Development Program in the Anderson Cup race.

“Good win, but we still have seven games left in the regular season and we want to get that Anderson Cup,” Cassetti said. “We are looking at the big picture here, taking it one game at a time.”

Waterloo exploded out of the gates Saturday, scoring four times in the first period, led by Trivigno, who opened the scoring with 9 minutes, 15 seconds left.

Coming off the bench on a line change, Trivigno took a pass from Ben Copeland and was left open one-on-one with Musketeer starter Ben Kraws before burying the shot low to the glove side. With 6:40 left, Ben Finkelstein made it 2-0 after Jack Drury won a faceoff, and Finkelstein slid to the slot and beat Kraws with a wrist shot.

Waterloo then scored a pair of shorthanded goals in the final 2:16, both set up by hustle plays by Trivigno as he fed Cassetti for a one-timer that made it 3-0. Then with the Black Hawks back on the penalty kill, he found Drury once again from behind the net where he won a puck, and it was 4-0 with 34 seconds left in the period.

“Bobby was on it,” O’Handley said. “He was on it from the start, made some great plays to get the puck back and got rewarded for it. It was good.”

“Yeah, a lot of that was thanks to Bobby Trivigno and putting the work in on the forecheck.” Cassetti added.

Sioux City scored 45 seconds apart midway through the second to cut its deficit in half, getting goals from Bobby Brink and Cole Keopke.

The Musketeers then made it interesting when Sampo Ranta scored a 5-on-3 power play goal with 11:19 left in the third. But Waterloo recovered as Garrett Wait scored the Black Hawks’ third power-play goal with 9:58 left, and Waterloo put it away with Cassetti’s second with 4:18 remaining.

“We let off the gas a little bit when we got the big lead,” O’Handley said. “A good lesson we learned. We were able to find a way, so that is a sign of a good team.”

Waterloo returns to action next Friday at Sioux Falls, before hosting Dubuque Saturday.

Waterloo 6, Sioux City 3

SCORE BY PERIODS

Sioux City 0 2 1 — 3

Waterloo 4 0 2 — 6

FIRST PERIOD — 1. Waterloo, Bobby Trivgno (Ben Copeland, Jackson Cates), 10:45, 2. Waterloo, Ben Finkelstein (Jack Drury), 14 20, 3. Waterloo, Joey Cassetti (Trivgno), 17:44, sh. 4. Waterloo, Drury (Trivgno), 19:26, sh. Penalties — Hank Sorensen, Wat (roughing), 14:46, Dylan Mills, SC (cross checking), 14:46, Solag Bakich, Wat (hooking), 16:34, Ben Finkelstein, Wat (tripping), 18:38.

SECOND PERIOD — 5. Sioux City, Bobby Brink (Martin Pospisil). 8:02, 6. Sioux City, Cole Koepke (Sammy Walker, Nate Clurman), 8:47. Penalties — Evan Dougherty, Wat (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:24, Mills, SC (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:24, Sampo Ranta, SC (double minor, roughing), 13:54, Dougherty, Wat (double minor, roughing), 13:54, Koepke, SC (unsportsmanlike conduct), 13:54.

THIRD PERIOD — 7. Sioux City, Ranta (Walker, Koepke), 8:41, pp, 8. Waterloo, Garrett Wait (Solag Bakich, Jeremy Jacques), 10:02, sh. 9. Waterloo, Cassetti (Bakich), 15:42. Penalties — Griffin Ness, Wat (tripping), 8:03, Team, Wat (bench minor, abuse of offical), 8:03,

SHOTS ON GOAL

Sioux City 8 11 12 — 31

Waterloo 15 15 11 — 41

Goalies — Sioux City, Ben Kraws (9 shots, 7 saves). Matt Jurusik (32shots, 28 saves). Waterloo, Jared Moe (28 saves). Referee — Steven Sailor. Linesmen — Tony Aronson and Elliott Bucholz.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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