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WATERLOO — The Waterloo Warriors held a pretty comfortable advantage through 45 minutes Thursday at Young Arena.

The home team was coasting to a 3-0 start to the season on the strength of Kole Latusick’s hat trick and a 4-1 advantage.

But over the final six minutes things got a little scary, as the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders cashed in on a lucky goal and a power play, to close the deficit to 4-3 with just under three minutes to play.

The Warriors tightened up their defense and goalie Chase Pabst became stronger in net, as Waterloo held on for a 4-3 Midwest High School Hockey League victory.

“I really thought after we went up 4-1, it was looking pretty good,” Warriors’ coach Brian Cook said. “Then we let that easy goal in, and they came right back with the power play goal and suddenly we were holding on by our shorts.

“We had chances to bury more shots but we just didn’t finish. I thought we played better defense in the end and Pabst played well in the net for us. We were a little nervous when they got those goals because they are a senior laden team and have played together a lot, so we had to rely on our depth and keep fresh. I thought JT Metcalf, Jack Harrison and Christian Heiser came in and really stepped up as younger players.”

It took Latusick, a junior at Cedar Falls, time to get started, but he soon found the net and on several occasions. Latusick’s first tally of the game broke a 1-1 tie with 43 seconds remaining in the opening period.

Latusick continued his assault on RoughRiders netminder, Ethan Snee during the second frame as he put two more on the board.

“I think that when we got up 4-1 we got a little cocky and played a little flat footed,” said Latusick. “We are a little rusty yet from football just getting over, and we need some time together to get it going. We jumped into the mindset of playing better on defense in the third period and I believe our senior leadership kicked in. We knew what we had to do an we went out and did it.”

Cedar Rapids began trimming into Waterloo’s lead in the third when Carter Renwick scored with five minutes remaining. Then with 2:18 to go, the RoughRiders added a power play goal with a 6-on-4 advantage.

Cedar Rapids would do no other damage as Pabst stooped the final six shots he faced to preserve the win.

“It’s always good to start the season out 3-0 and especially since we have Omaha coming in this weekend,” Cook said. “I think they are the team to beat this year, and I personally have never beat them in a regular season game. The schedule has been pretty nice to us to start the season and this Saturday’s game with Omaha will mean a lot.”

Waterloo 4, Cedar Rapids 3

SCORE BY PERIODS

Cedar Rapids 1 0 2 —3

Waterloo 2 2 0 —4

FIRST PERIOD—1. Waterloo, JT Metcalf (Carter Herbst, Ethan Fox), 15:16. 2. Cedar Rapids, Hunter Williams (Cameron Walker, Josh Nelson), 15:58. 3. Waterloo, Kole Latusick (Herbst, Keegan Smith), 16:17. Penalties—Ben Sinnott, Wat. (checking from behind) 3:21, Jack Harrison, Wat. (Interference) 7:41.

SECOND PERIOD—4. Waterloo, Latusick (Sinnott, Herbst), 10:51, 5. Waterloo, Latusick (Sinnott), 15:32, pp. Penalties—Holden Sevening, CR (holding) 2:05, Latusick, Wat. (slashing), 5:40, Latusick, Wat. (unsportmanlike conduct), 11:17, Cole Accola, CR (unsportsmanlike conduct) 11:17, Tanner Heiar, CR (cross checking) 11:17, Hunter Williams, CR (holding), 14:36.

THIRD PERIOD—6. Cedar Rapids, Carter Renwick (Ben Pizzimenti, Ryan Carlson), 11:24, 7. Cedar Rapids, Sevening (Renwick), 14:42, pp. Penalties—Cedar Rapids, (too many men) 8:30, Smith, Wat. (holding) 14:06, Brady Buckley, Wat. (roughing) 14:33, Ethan Kochanny, CR (roughing) 14:33.

SHOTS ON GOAL

Cedar Rapids 10 6 14—30

Waterloo 9 14 5—28

Goaltenders—Cedar Rapids, Ethan Snee (24 saves), Waterloo, Chase Pabst (27 saves). Officials—Referee—Collin Brecher. Linesmen—Ian Carlson and Scott Slee.

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