WATERLOO — In a stretch of strong play, it was far from the Waterloo Black Hawks’ best game.
But pressure in the right place at the right time set up Garrett Wait for the game-winning goal with 1 minute, 7 seconds left as the Black Hawks defeated Chicago Tuesday in United States Hockey League action at Young Arena.
The Black Hawks (23-11-4) moved into first place in the Western Conference with the win.
“We talk about pressuring the pucks in the right areas, and we were able to capitalize on a turnover,” Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley said. “It was the right pressure, at the right angle at the right time.”
Jackson Cates created the turnover in neutral ice, Ben Finkelstein carried it down the right side and his cross-ice pass to Wait for a one-timer was a thing of beauty as Wait scored his 14th goal of the season and fourth game-winning goal.
“We just executed our forecheck like coach wanted us to all night and it felt pretty good to get that last one,” Wait said. “Give credit to Chicago. They are pretty good team and fought hard all night.
“The game-winner ... Fink has great vision and I was lucky he gave it to me.”
Chicago took the early lead when a Derek Daschke shot from the blue line rapped off the boards right to the stick of Robert Mastrosimone and it was 1-0 just 61 seconds into the game.
Waterloo carried much of the play for the rest of the period, but missed the net on the few opportunities that presented themselves.
“We did control the puck pretty well, but sometimes at the moment of truth we made the wrong decision and got a little too fancy,” O’Handley said.
Then, while on the penalty kill early in the second, Ben Copeland picked the pocket of a Steel defenseman and scored shorthanded with 16:14 left to tie it at 1-all.
It was Copeland’s third shorthanded goal of the season, which ties him for the league lead with teammate Jack Drury and Omaha’s Filip Suchy. It was Waterloo’s league-best 10th shorty.
“I can’t explain them. They don’t happen very often so you take them when you get them and that was a good play,” O’Handley said.
Chicago regained the lead when Samuel Bucek scored early in the third on a power play, but Waterloo tied it with 8:51 to go as Jack Drury tapped home a loose puck on a Waterloo power play, extending his point-scoring streak to a USHL-best 20 games.
The victory capped a successful homestand for Waterloo with its third consecutive victory and a 4-1-1 record over the stand.
“It’s a pretty good stretch we just had and a lot of the credit goes to the players,” O’Handley said. “They are understanding more and more what it takes and what happens when you don’t do what it takes.
“The fine line between winning and losing was on full display tonight. It wasn’t our best game, but we did enough right.”
Waterloo returns to action Friday at Green Bay.
Waterloo 3, Chicago 2
SCORE BY PERIODS
Chicago 1 0 1 — 2
Waterloo 0 1 2 — 3
FIRST PERIOD — 1. Chicago, Robert Mastrosimone (Derek Daschke, Jack Dugan), 1:01. Penalties — none.
SECOND PERIOD — 2. Waterloo, Ben Copeland (unassisted), 3:46, sh. Penalties — Matek Blumel, Wat (hooking), 2:38, Tim Clifton, Chi (hooking), 5:25, Mason Palmer, Wat (cross checking), 8:32, Jeremie Bucheler, Chi (slashing), 12:43.
THIRD PERIOD — 3. Chicago, Samuel Bucek (Aaro Vidgren, Daschke), 3:33, pp, 4. Waterloo, Jack Drury (Garrett Wait, Ben Finkelstein), 11:09, pp, 5. Waterloo, Garrett Wait (FInkelstein, Jackson Cates), 18:53. Penalties — Palmer, Wat (slashing), 1:48, Joey Cassetti, Wat (unsportsmanlike conduct), 3:54, Jordan Seyfert, Chi (tripping), 9:34, Solag Bakich, Wat (slashing), 10:53, Clifton, Chi (roughing ), 10:53, Tyler Gratton, Chi (tripping), 14:27.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Chicago 4 8 7 — 19
Waterloo 9 12 11 — 33
Goaltenders — Chicago, Oskar Autio (30 saves). Waterloo, Matej Tomek (17 saves). Referees — Ian Jendro, Kevin Corbett. Linesmen — Chad Fuller, Alex Karabetson.