WATERLOO — The Waterloo Black Hawks got back to the grind Thursday in Omaha in their first action since prior to the holiday break.

Waterloo returns home tonight to host Lincoln, and then hosts Des Moines Sunday at 6:05 p.m. to wrap up the 2017 portion of its schedule.

With just a little more than one-third of the season gone, Black Hawks head coach P.K O’Handley says his team is in a great spot despite sitting in fourth place in the United States Hockey League Western Division.

“We control a lot of things,” O’Handley said. “Being in a good spot it is what do you do with that situation. We have to seize the opportunity in front of us. I think that is our biggest challenge, our challenge internally as much as anything.”

The Black Hawks (13-9-1-1) are just six points out of first and have experienced growing pains during the early months of the season. Those growing pains have saw lack of execution at times that has resulted in uneven, and inconsistent play.

Waterloo has been great on the road (10-4-1) with only Fargo’s 11 road wins more than the Black Hawks. But Waterloo is just 3-5-0 at home.

“We want to keep going up and doing it the right way. We know how to do that,” said forward Jackson Cates. “If we can continue to play our way I think we can be successful.”

Waterloo has also been hampered by injury and entered this weekend with just five healthy defensemen.

Canadian defender Jeremy Jacques continues to rehab from an injury that has limited him to four games, while rookie Kyle Koopman’s injury is expected to sideline him an extended period of time. Another defensemen, James Marooney, is questionable.

“It is what it is,” O’Handley said. “We are where we are and can’t change that. I think our old guys have been through this before and have a sense of understanding of where we are at and what we need to do.

“We have to play better as a group. I think there have been moments we have shown what we could be, but it just hasn’t been there every single minute of every single game.”

Defensemen Hank Sorensen is one of the old guys who knows what it will take to find success in 2018.

“We have to start doing the little things more consistently,” Sorensen said. “It’s making simple plays pretty much.”

TRADE: Waterloo swapped forwards with the Fargo Force over the break, trading Calvin Pokorny for Evan Dougherty.

Dougherty has two goals and two assists in 23 games with the Force this season, while Pokorny appeared in 18 games for the Black Hawks recording a goal and two assists.