WATERLOO — The game-winner went to “The native.”
Waterloo native Hunter Lellig knocked in the go-ahead goal with 10 minutes, 32 seconds to play as the Waterloo Black Hawks rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat Sioux City 4-3 Tuesday night at Young Arena.
“We were able to grind it down low, get it out to Hunter and great for the Waterloo kid,” Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley said. “To get a game-winner at home, that was nice to see.”
Taking a pass from Ben Copeland from behind the net, Lellig’s hard, low shot slipped underneath the pads of Musketeer goalie Matt Jurusik as Waterloo (34-14-8) picked up an all-important win with four games left in the regular season.
The victory gives the Black Hawks 76 points, just one shy of Team USA as both teams pursue the Anderson Cup given to the USHL’s regular-season champion.
“There is nothing easy in this league and that was a hard-fought game,” O’Handley said. “A couple of uncharacteristic turnovers ended up in the back of our net, but we found a way to win and that is the most important thing.”
The Black Hawks trailed 3-2 to open the third, but 4:26 into the period, Ben Copeland scored a power play goal on assists from Bobby Trivgno and Jack Drury to tie it 3-all.
Then shortly after Waterloo killed off a two-minute 5-on-3 power play, a Trivigno shot put the Musketeers on their heels chasing a rebound. The puck eventually found Copeland, who then found Lellig.
“That was huge,” O’Handley said of the 5-on-3 penalty kill. “Those things happened, you have to take them as they come, but at that point I think our players at that point got angry and our urgency level went up.”
As far as game-winner, Lellig diverted the credit.
“Cope in the far corner made a great pass to me right in the slot area. I shot and thankfully it went in ... five-hole. It didn’t leave the ice, but I’ll take it,” said Lellig of his fourth goal of the season.
Waterloo scored just 22 seconds into the game as Matej Blumel connected on a nice pass from Evan Dougherty. Sioux City followed with the next three goals — two on Waterloo turnovers — and led 3-1 after two periods.
“It is tough when you get down two goals like that,” Lellig said. “I thought we were playing well at times in the first half of that period and the first period was good. We had a good talk in the lockerroom after we got down, figured it out and got the two points.”
Dougherty cut the Black Hawks’ deficit to one when he knocked home a rebound with 8:49 left in the second to give Waterloo important momentum heading into the final 20 minutes.
The Black Hawks return to action Friday at home against Sioux Falls.
“There is no time to breathe,” O’Handley said. “Four left and we’re expecting four more hard-fought games.”
Waterloo 4, Sioux City 3
SCORE BY PERIODS
Sioux City 1 2 0 — 3
Waterloo 1 1 2 — 4
FIRST PERIOD — 1. Waterloo, Matej Blumel (Evan Dougherty, Garrett Klee), :22, 2. Sioux City, Micah Miller (Nate Knoepke), 1:20. Penalties — none.
SECOND PERIOD — 3. Sioux City, Calle Ehrnberg (Martin Pospisil, Sampo Ranta), 5:11, 4. Sioux City, Miller (unassisted), 6:17, 5. Waterloo, Dougherty (Blumel, Klee), 11:21, Penalties — Parker Ford, SC (high sticking), 8:59, Solag Bakich, Wat (fighting, game misconduct), 12:02, Ehrnberg, SC (fighting), 12:02, Jack Drury, Wat (double minor roughing), 13:20, Knoepke, SC (double minor roughing), 13:20, Griffin Ness, Wat (roughing), 14:01.
THIRD PERIOD — 6. Waterloo, Copeland (Bobby Trivgno, Drury), 5:34, pp, 7. Waterloo, Hunter Lellig (Copeland, Blumel), 14:01. Penalties — Pospisil, SC (roughing), 4:20, Dougherty, Wat (roughing), 9:28, Hank Sorensen, Wat (holding), 9:28,
SHOTS ON GOAL
Sioux City 11 12 10 — 33
Waterloo 20 14 8 — 42
Goalies — Sioux City, Matt Jurusik (38 saves). Waterloo, Jared Moe (30 saves). Referees—Jeff Parkes, Eric Krasnichik. Linesmen — Rhodes Dolan, Ivan Nedeljkovic.