SIOUX CITY — First the game started to go a little sideways. It didn’t take long for it go south for the Waterloo Black Hawks.
Sioux City scored first, added two more in the first period and dominated the Black Hawks Tuesday to claim the United States Hockey League Western Conference championship with an 8-3 victory at the Tyson Events Center in a winner-take-all Game 5.
“We got in a position where we were chasing the game,” Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley said. “We chased it quite well, but everything they touched seem to go in the net and that is unfortunate for this group.
“I don’t know what you say. It is what it is at this point.”
The Musketeers got first-period goals from Tarek Baker, Jacob Wilson and Micah Miller, the third when Miller stole the puck in his own defensive zone and then weaved his way in and out of four Black Hawk defenders to make it 3-0.
“We dug ourselves a pretty big hole early and when we dig ourselves that big of a hole it is hard to come out of it, especially playoff hockey it is hard to come back,” defenseman Mikey Anderson said.
Waterloo did find a way to make it interesting, but only after Sioux City took a 5-0 lead in the second period on the strength of goals by Phillip Knies and Kristian Pospisil.
Bailey Conger scored a power-play goal with 3:08 left in the period and just 35 seconds later, defenseman Grant Gabriele, pinching in from the blue line, scored on a backhand.
It got more interesting early in the third when Ben Copeland found a loose puck along the far boards, spun and fired on net for a goal just 1:51 in to make it 5-3. Waterloo had Sioux City on its heels and the Musketeer faithful nervous.
“I don’t think I’m understating this, I didn’t mind the way we played,” O’Handley said. “I thought our players felt at 5-3 we were going to win the game. Odds were long, but with the looks we were getting, who knows.
“But when you press and press you are going to give up chances and it seems like every mistake went in.”
The Musketeers eventually regrouped and Odeen Tufto’s goal with 6:17 left put Sioux City back in charge. Brian Rigali and Eeli Tolvanen scored short-handed and into an empty late in the game as the Musketeers handed the Black Hawks their fifth consecutive Clark Cup Game Five elimination game loss.
Sioux City broke the ice initially when Jackson Keane snapped a shot on Robbie Beydoun. Beydoun made the initial save, but it dropped to the ice in front of him and before he could cover it, Baker slapped it home for a 1-0 lead just 5 minutes, 1 second into the game. It was Baker’s third goal of the series.
The Musketeers made it 2-0 with a nifty passing game in the offensive zone that set up Wilson, who buried a wicked wrist shot past Beydoun’s blocker.
The onslaught continued with Miller’s theft and rush down the ice.
“Once they got a couple, it was going to be tough to come back,” forward Nick Swaney said. “But we fought back and we played our hardest. You have to give it to Sioux City. They played a great series and we ended up on the wrong end of it.”
Like it did all series, Waterloo continued to battle. Unfortunately it was not enough after the early deficit.
“Nobody stopped believing,” forward Shane Bowers said. “We made a run at it and everyone left it out there. Credit to Sioux City. They came ready to play and jumped on us early.”
“I’m proud of them,” added O’Handley of his team. “It would’ve been easy to fold up shop and that wasn’t the case at all. Proud of the guys and I feel for them.”
Sioux City 8, Waterloo 3
SCORE BY PERIODS
Waterloo 0 2 1 — 3
Sioux City 3 2 3 — 8
FIRST PERIOD — 1. Sioux City, Tarek Baker (Jackson Keane), 4:59, 2. Sioux City, Jacob Wilson (Charlie Kelleher, Kristian Pospisil), 13:21, 3. Sioux City, Micah Miller (unassisted), 16:20. Penalties — Eeli Tolvanen, SC (slashing), 1:44, Bailey Conger, Wat (tripping), 6:16.
SECOND PERIOD — 4. Sioux City, Phillip Knies (Tolvanen), 2:31, 5. Sioux City, Pospisil (unassisted), 12:07, 6. Waterloo, Conger (Emil Ohrvall), 16:52, pp, 7. Waterloo, Grant Gabriele (Conger), 17:27. Penalties — Hank Sorensen, Wat (cross checking), 8:33, Baker, SC (slashing), 8:55, Dylan Samberg, Wat (holding), 9:36, Wilson, SC (cross checking), 15:16.
THIRD PERIOD — 8. Waterloo, Ben Copeland (unassisted), 1:51, 9. Sioux City, Odeen Tufto (Pospisil, Knies), 13:43, 10. Sioux City, Brian Rigali (unassisted), 15:36, sh, 11. Sioux CIty, Tolvanen (unassisted), 16:57, en. Penalties — Matt Hellickson, SC (tripping), 4:01, Kevin Charyszyn, Wat (roughing), 10:56, Hellickson, SC (cross checking), 10:56, Mikey Anderson, Wat (tripping), 11:40, Kelleher, SC (roughing), 12:36, Nick Swaney, Wat (roughing), 12:36, Tolvanen, SC (too many men), 14:45.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Waterloo 12 10 13 — 35
Sioux City 11 4 12 — 27
Goalies — Waterloo, Robbie Beydoun (12 shots, 8 saves). Peter Thome (15 shots, 12 saves). Sioux City Matiss Kivlenieks (32 saves). Referees — White, Sewell. Linesmen — Dolan, Tallieu.