WATERLOO — When one mistake leads to another, the third mistake usually ends up in the back of the net.
That is a hard lesson the Waterloo Black Hawks learned Friday night in a 3-1 United States Hockey League loss to Chicago at Young Arena.
After a strong first two periods with little to show for it, Waterloo saw the Steel score twice in 26 seconds late in the second period to seize control and beat the Black Hawks for the first time in three tries.
“In big moments we are freezing, and I don’t know why,” Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley said. “It is simple stuff and we are not executing at key times.
“Are they huge mistakes? No, but one is leading to two and two is leading to three at key moments. Under five minutes in a period, one led to two, two led to three and they scored.”
The loss was Waterloo’s second consecutive in regulation, the first time the Black Hawks have lost back-to-back games in regulation since Feb. 16-17.
O’Handley said Waterloo controlled the pivotal second period for as much as 15 or 16 minutes, but then the Black Hawks got caught cheating.
Josiah Slavin turned the first miscue into a 1-0 Steel lead with 3:26 left in the second, and not that long after, Gunnerwolfe Fontaine made it 2-0.
“I don’t think you can take credit away from the two plays they made,” O’Handley said. “We had a couple of guys on the ice trying to cheat for offense and when you cheat for offense you become a defensive liability and it is unfortunate.
“It is a hard lesson, but a good lesson if you learn it.”
Chicago got a power play goal just 4 minutes, 9 seconds into the third and from that point on the Black Hawks were chasing.
Ryan Druklec scored on a nice pass from Xander Lamppa to get Waterloo on the board with 11:53 left, but the Black Hawks could push no more past Reilly Herbst, who turned away 32 shots.
“Their goalie played well,” O’Handley said. “We had some good looks, but it is a hard game to chase. They are a good team ... and we put ourselves in a position where we had to chase the game.”
Now after scoring at least a point in nine consecutive games, Waterloo has dropped back-to-back home games. Combined with a 4-1 Sioux Falls win in Youngstown, the Black Hawks are now two points back of the Stampede for second in the Western Conference with second meaning a first-round bye in the Clark Cup playoffs.
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“Obviously pretty frustrated,” defenseman Mason Palmer said. “Got to get back to the basics and working harder and not relying on our skills as much as our hard work.
“At the beginning of the season we were a hard-working team, and recently it seems we have transitioned away and we have to get back to a hard-working, hard-hockey team.
“If we stick with that I think we can do some cool things coming up here.”
Chicago 3, Waterloo 1
SCORE BY PERIODS
Chicago 0 2 1 — 3
Waterloo 0 0 1 — 1
FIRST PERIOD — No scoring. Penalties — Matt Cameron, Wat (tripping), 1:24, Cole Quisenberry, Chi (tripping), 11:47, Griffin Ness, Wat (hooking), 15:59, John Spetz, Chi (roughing), 18:17.
SECOND PERIOD — 1. Chicago, Josiah Slavin (Matthieu De. St. Phalle, Uula Rukka), 16:36, 2. Chicago, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine (Adam Robbins), 17:00. Penalties — Teddy Lagerback, Wat (hooking), 8:17, Mason Reiners, Wat (tripping), 11:38, Slavin, Chi (boarding), 18:40
THIRD PERIOD — 3. Chicago, Owen Power (De. St. Phalle, Robbins), 4:09, pp, 4. Waterloo, Ryan Drkulec (Xander Lamppa, Lagerback), 8:07. Penalties — Dane Montgomery, Wat (interference), 2:16, Drkulec, Wat (roughing), 19:55
SHOTS ON GOAL
Chicago 11 11 11 — 33
Waterloo 10 13 10 — 33
Goalies — Chicago, Reilly Herbst (32 saves). Waterloo, Jared Moe (30 saves). Referees — Nolan Bloyer, Andrew Rasky. Linesman — Patrick Giles, Jeff Pacocha.