Starting Off in Sioux City
After home games against the Omaha Lancers were postponed last weekend, the Black Hawks will begin the 2020/21 season on the road Friday versus the Sioux City Musketeers (7:05 p.m.). Waterloo topped Sioux City in the only 2019/20 meetings between the teams, claiming 4-0 and 8-2 victories on March 6th and 7th. Since 1979/80 when the Hawks and Musketeers transitioned to completely junior rosters, Waterloo is 105-111-7 (w – l+otl – t) in regular season games against Sioux City. Following this weekend’s Saturday rematch (7:05 p.m.), the Hawks will visit the Tri-City Storm on Sunday (4:05 p.m.). The Storm won the most recent contest between the clubs, 4-3 on January 14th, but Waterloo claimed the other four meetings last year. All five matchups were one-goal games, with two settled in overtime.
Three Games, Three Days
The Black Hawks are positioned to play their first three games of the new season within a three-day span. Waterloo has not opened a year under such circumstances since 1991/92. That fall, the Hawks fell in the debut contest, 4-1 versus the Des Moines Buccaneers, but recovered to defeat the North Iowa Huskies and Rochester Mustangs before the weekend was out. Coincidentally, the tilt with North Iowa was P.K. O’Handley’s first appearance in Waterloo as a USHL head coach; O’Handley was just beginning his tenure with the Huskies.
Last season, the Black Hawks had three Canadian players on the roster: Luke Bast, Kieghan Gerrie, and Gabriel Carriere. Bast returns for 2020/21 joined by fellow countrymen Michael LaStarza, Ryan O’Hara, and Owen Ozar. If they are all in the lineup for the first game of the season, it will instantly mark the biggest number of Canadians to appear for Waterloo in one year since 2014/15.
The 2020/21 season will be the fourth year that the USHL has played a five-minute, three-on-three overtime after a regulation tie. Last season, Waterloo was 6-2 when games were settled in those three-on-three circumstances. Over the three-year span, the Hawks are 14-13. More notably, 79.4 percent of the Waterloo games tied at the end of regulation have been completed without requiring a shootout.
Brothers in Waterloo
Tucker Ness joins the Black Hawks for 2020/21 after his brother, Griffin, appeared in 107 Waterloo regular season games starting in 2018. Tucker’s debut will make the brothers the first siblings to each skate for the Hawks since twins Matt and Kyle Koopman. Some other notable brother combinations to play for P.K. O’Handley include Joe and Scott Pavelski, James and Mike Marcou, and J.P. and Mike Testwuide.
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