The Black Hawks visit both of the United States Hockey League’ Dakota-dwelling teams this week. On Thursday, Waterloo tangles with the Western Conference-leading Fargo Force. From November 27th through December 18th, the Force produced a six-game winning streak, which is the longest this season by any Western Conference club. Fargo is 6-1-0 at Scheels Arena, taking their only loss at home against Sioux City, 6-3 on December 26th. The Hawks then move on to meet the Sioux Falls Stampede Friday and Saturday. So far this season, Waterloo and Sioux Falls have each won a road game against the other. The Hawks prevailed 5-2 on December 19th after the Stampede claimed a 1-0 win on the 4th. All of this week’s games start at 7:05 p.m.
The Scoring Seven
David Gucciardi scored the final goal during the Hawks’ most recent game last Thursday, a 3-1 victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers. With that tally, he became the seventh different Waterloo defenseman with a goal in 2020/21. In just a dozen games, Hawks blue-liners have provided as much scoring variety as the 2018/19 squad generated over 62 contests; that season, Waterloo also had goals from seven different defensemen. Combining to score nine total goals in 2020/21, the Hawks currently have a higher percentage of their offense from defensemen (25.7 percent) than any other USHL team.
Rookie in the Running
A pair of goals by Michael LaStarza last week gives the 16-year-old four during 2020/21 and a total of seven points. Both figures stand with the USHL’s rookie leaders. LaStarza is tied for fourth in goals and ninth in points among that group. Connor Kurth of the Dubuque Fighting Saints tops rookie scoring with 15 points.
A Handful on the Road
Thursday’s game in Fargo is the first of five-in-a-row away from Young Arena. Matchups during the next two weeks represent the longest road sequence of the 2020/21 season. So far this year, the Hawks are 3-4-0 in away games. On average, Waterloo has scored more (3.3 goals per game versus 2.4) and allowed more goals (3.4 to 2.2) respectively in away matchups compared to home games.
The Hawks have been off since a home-and-home series with the Des Moines Buccaneers on December 30th and 31st. Starting in Des Moines, the Hawks fell 3-2 last Wednesday. Waterloo’s offense came from Cooper Wylie during a second period power play and Michael LaStarza early in the third. The next night, goals from LaStarza and Ethan Szmagaj in the first period sent the Hawks toward a 3-1 New Year’s Eve win. Goalie Charlie Glockner was in net for both games and stopped 48 of 52 Bucs shots.
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