LINCOLN, Neb. — Jackson Cates and Garrett Wait executed a perfect give-and-go three minutes into overtime as the Waterloo Black Hawks scored a thrilling 2-1 victory over Lincoln to take a 2-1 lead in a United States Hockey League Western Conference semifinal.
After 60 minutes and missed chances by both teams to end it in regulation, a great outlet pass by Bobby Trivigno set-up an odd-man rush and an even better play to finish it.
Cates carried the puck up the ice and whipped a pass to Wait just above the circles. Wait sent it right back, and Cates chipped in the game-winner.
“Bobby made a nice chip out of the zone,” said Cates, Waterloo’s leading scorer during the regular season. “I then beat one D, and I’m not sure where the other one was, but we had a two-on-none, and Waiter made a nice play back to me.
“You know what is on the line in overtime. It was nerve racking, but it is one you have to bury.”
Waterloo owned the overtime period, generating four shots in the first two minutes and never letting the Stars off their heels. That was the message between the end of regulation and the start of overtime that the Black Hawks shared in their lockerroom.
“We had a good third period,” said goalie Jared Moe, who made 26 saves to win his second straight in the series. “We were looking to be better in overtime ...”
Now up 2-1, the Black Hawks will have a chance to eliminate Lincoln tonight in Game 4 and advance to play Fargo, a 3-1 series winner over Omaha, in the Western Conference finals.
“Obviously, a huge win in the series,” Moe added. “But the series is not over and we have to come out strong tomorrow.”
Waterloo outshot Lincoln, 5-0 in overtime and 40-28 in the game.
“It was a heck of a hockey game and it could’ve gone either way at any time,” Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley said. “It was good to see us create some opportunities in overtime and then finally bury one.
“Jackson made a really, really good play with Waiter in overtime and, you know what, we were fortunate to win and now you’ve got to move past it and play again tomorrow.”
Needing a good start and some offense from its top players, Waterloo got exactly that just 1:36 into the first period. Ben Finkelstein carried a puck from neutral ice deep into the Stars’ zone behind the net. After some jockeying with a pair of Lincoln defenders, Finkelstein found an unchecked Jack Drury in the slot and Drury’s one-timer beat Tomas Vomacka over his glove for a 1-0 lead.
“We had a good start,” O’Handley added. “It’s what you need, but really, just an incredible game on both sides.”
The goal was Drury’s first point of the series, and the assist was Finkelstein’s first of the series. He had 26 in 23 regular-season games.
Lincoln tied it with 10:55 left in the second just six seconds after Solag Bakich was sent to the box for slashing.
“Really, it was an incredible hockey game,” O’Handley said. “I thought both teams had great looks at the goal that didn’t fall. Their goaltender was exceptional and goaltending on both sides was exceptional. It had everything and then some. “
Game Four starts at 7:05 p.m. tonight.
“Tough battle against a good team and we just grinded it out,” Cates added. “We knew how crucial Game 3 was ... it is a series-changer. We have to come back tomorrow night and finish them off.”
Waterloo 2, Lincoln 1 OT
SCORE BY PERIODS
Waterloo 1 0 1 — 2
Lincoln 0 1 0 — 1
FIRST PERIOD — 1. Waterloo, Jack Drury (Ben Finkelstein, Solag Bakich), 1:36. Penalties — Griffin Ness, Wat (hooking), 4:44, Garrett Wait, Wat (interference), 8:09, Paul Cotter, Lin (interference), 12:30, Wait, Wat (roughing), 18:47, Christian Krygier, Lin (roughing), 18:47.
SECOND PERIOD — 2. Lincoln, Paul Cotter (Collin Peters, Tristan Ashbrook), 9:05, pp. Penalties — Wyatt Aamodt, Lin (cross checkiing), 5:15, Solag Bakich, Wat (slashing), 8:59, Joey Cassetti, Wat (slashing), 14:31.
THIRD PERIOD — No scoring. Penalties — None.
OVERTIME — 3. Waterloo, Jackson Cates (Wait, Bobby Trivigno), 3:00. Penatlies — None.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Waterloo 13 12 10 5 — 40
Lincoln 11 7 10 0 — 28
Goalies — Waterloo, Jared Moe (27 saves). Lincoln, Tomas Vomacka (38 saves). Referees — Kevin Corbett and James White . Linesmen — Elliott Bucholz and Trent Williams.