The Rungs Above
This weekend, the Black Hawks host both of the teams that are directly ahead in the Western Conference standings. The fourth-place Omaha Lancers (8-4-2) visit on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Omaha won the prior head-to-head game, 2-1 in a shootout on October 15th. The contest is the only time Waterloo has been involved in a shootout this season. Dating back to 2020/21, three of the last six Hawks-Lancers games have lasted beyond regulation. Saturday, the Sioux City Musketeers (8-3-3) travel to Young Arena at 6:05 p.m. Sioux City is currently in third after back-to-back shutouts last Friday and Saturday from USHL Goaltender of the Week Alex Tracy. Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between the Hawks and Musketeers this year.
With scores last weekend by Sam Rinzel and Mason Reiners, 10 of the Black Hawks’39 goals have come from defensemen. The percentage (25.6) is far above the league average (14.1) and second only to the Lincoln Stars’ astronomical rate (35.4). Waterloo and Lincoln are currently the only USHL clubs with more than 20 percent of their offense from defensemen.
The Black Hawks recorded their first two-man advantage goal of the season last Friday versus the Tri-City Storm. Waterloo is now 1-for-5 in five-on-three situations. Meanwhile, the Hawks were two-men shorthanded on four different occasions during the Tri-City series but came through all of them unscathed. This year, Waterloo has now denied five out of seven opposing five-on-threes.
Defenseman Sam Rinzel and forward Gavyn Thoreson each made their first appearances for the team last weekend off the Hawks’ affiliate list. Earlier this fall, Rinzel was graded as a “B” prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft by NHL Central Scouting. That designation suggests he is an early candidate to be selected in the second or third round. Thoreson was the third-youngest Black Hawk on the ice this weekend, senior only to James Hong and Connor Brown. Last season, he was Garrett Schifsky’s teammate at Andover (MN) High School.
The Black Hawks tangled with the Tri-City Storm last Friday and Saturday in two games defined by special teams. Combining the two nights, there were 21 power play situations (14 for Tri-City to seven for Waterloo). In Friday’s game, Sam Rinzel had a goal and an assists for the Hawks, but Tri-City broke open a tie game with four unanswered goals for a 6-2 final. Saturday, Mason Reiners scored in the second period after a Storm goal late in the first. However, four more for Tri-City pushed the final to 5-1.
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The Black Hawks return home on Friday, November 19th to meet the Omaha Lancers. The 7:05 p.m. game features the Domino’s Family 4 Pack, with four tickets, four sodas, four chuck-a-pucks, and a Large Domino’s Pizza for $60. To order, click here.