WATERLOO — Climbing Mount Everest doesn’t take a day, and neither does winning a United States Hockey League regular-season championship.
Using the mantra of being its best self on a daily basis and continually climbing the mountain, the Waterloo Black Hawks captured the USHL’s Anderson Cup Saturday night with a 6-0 win over Des Moines in front of a sellout crowd of 3,400-plus at Young Arena.
“It is tough to describe,” captain Jack Drury said of the Anderson Cup. “Because it is the regular season you know you have been working hard for this the last eight months. I’m just so happy I got to do it with the group of guys in this lockerroom, because I love everyone in there so much.”
It is the third Anderson Cup for the Black Hawks in franchise history, all coming under head coach P.K. O’Handley. Waterloo previously won in 2006-07 and 2013-14.
The Black Hawks’ (38-14-8) journey to the Cup was a steady climb as their worst month of the season was their first in October when they went 4-4.
Waterloo was particularly strong the second half of the season. After going 5-2-2 in January, the Black Hawks won seven games each in February and March and finished the regular season a perfect 5-0 in April.
In fact, Waterloo went 12-0-4 in its last 16 games and has not lost a game in regulation since an 8-5 loss to Lincoln on Feb. 24.
“Pretty happy for these guys,” O’Handley said. “When you look at the length of our season and the challenges you go through with all kinds of things ... we talked about getting two mountains — Mountain A and Mountain C — and we accomplished the first one.”
“We feel fortunate, but I feel our guys earned it,” O’Handley said. “When you feel you’ve earned it, it feels that much better.”
Waterloo took control of the game early, led 2-0 after the first period and put the game away with three more goals in the third as Evan Dougherty and Sam Huff each scored twice, and Matek Tomej posted his third shutout of the season and 15th victory.
The scoring started in the first on a great pass by Ethan Johnson from behind the net to a late arriving Evan Dougherty during a line change. Dougherty took the pass in stride unchecked in the slot and his quick wrist shot found the back of the net to make it 1-0 8:06 into the first.
Sam Huff made it 2-0 when he won a scramble for the puck and scored with 1:36 left in the period.
Waterloo had to kill penalties in the second and 1 minute, 11 seconds of another in the third to maintain its lead.
Dougherty made it 3-0 with his second of the night when his shot sailed high, rebounded off the back boards, hit Des Moines’ goalie Atticus Kelly in his back and dropped to his feet where Kelly pushed it into the net unaware it was behind him 1:53 into the third.
Ben Finkelstein, Garrett Klee and Huff also scored in the third.
In addition to the Anderson Cup, Waterloo clinched home ice throughout the Clark Cup playoffs and a first-round bye.
PLAYOFF FORMAT: The USHL switched to a new/old playoff format for the 2018 playoffs.
Six teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs with the top two seeds in each conference receive first-round byes.
Seeds 3-6 and 4-5 will open the playoffs playing a best-of-three series (April 16-18) at the lowest seed’s home ice, with the conference semifinals and finals and Clark Cup finals switching to a best-of-five series.
This format was previously used in 2012.
Waterloo 6, Des Moines 0
SCORE BY PERIODS
Des Moines 0 0 0 — 0
Waterloo 2 0 4 — 6
FIRST PERIOD — 1. Waterloo, Evan Dougherty (Ethan Johnson, Matt Koopman), 8 06, 2. Waterloo, Sam Huff (Jack Drury, James Marooney), 18:24. Penalties — Josh Luedtke, DSM (bench minor, too many men), :39, Hank Sorensen, Wat (checking from behind), 5:03, Will MacKinnon, DSM (fighting), 12:08, Solag Bakich, Wat (fighting), 12:08, Garrett Wait, Wat (roughing), 13:16,
SECOND PERIOD — No scoring. Penalties — Joey Cassetti, Wat (boarding), 1:35, Mason Palmer, Wat (interference), 4:19, Brian Halonen, DSM (unsportsmanlike conduct), 4:19, Palmer, Wat (cross checking), 12:39, Wait, Wat (slashing), 19:11.
THIRD PERIOD — 3. Waterloo, Dougherty (Garrett Klee), 1:53, 4. Waterloo, Ben Finkelstein (Cassetti, Ben Copeland), 7:06, 5. Waterloo, Klee (Finkelstein, Johnson), 11:56. 6. Waterloo, Huff (Cassetti, Matt Koopman), 17:53. Penalties — Nicolas Werbik, DSM (hooking), 4:04, Tyler Paquette, DSM (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:29, Kyle Koopman, Wat (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:29, Koopman, Wat (roughing), 12:45, Bakich, Wat (cross checking), 12:45, Luke Manning, DSM (roughing), 12:45.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Des Moines 8 10 2 — 20
Waterloo 11 10 18 — 39
Goalies — Des Moines, Atticus Kelly (33 saves). Waterloo, Matej Tomek (20 saves). Referee — Nolan Bloyer. Linesmen — Elliott Buchholz, Neil Frederickson.