Alex Tracy had flirted with a shutout in Game One, but he finished a perfect performance Tuesday in Game Three, as the Sioux City Musketeers blanked the Waterloo Black Hawks 3-0 at Tyson Events Center in a winner-take-all matchup to settle the Western Conference Semifinal between the USHL’s longest continuous rivals.
Tracy made 16 saves as the Hawks were limited to no more than seven shots on goal in any single period.
The Musketeers had won the opener 3-1 Saturday with Waterloo’s lone goal in the final three minutes of play. The Hawks prevailed on Sunday in Game Two despite being held to 18 shots.
A terrific puck-handling play by Grant Slukynsky created the lone goal of the opening 40 minutes. At 17:25 of the first, Slukynsky batted a pass out of midair in the left wing circle, giving him the chance to set up Tabor Heaslip near the top of the crease. Heaslip dodged goalie Emmett Croteau, flipping his shot past Croteau’s pad.
Sioux City added an insurance goal at 7:24 of the third as Nick Pierre kept a clearing attempt in, setting up Tomi Leppanen’s blast from the left point.
Ben Steeves added an empty net goal with 45.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Croteau stopped 20 of 22 shots. Through the end of the conference semifinal round, his 168 saves and 354 minutes played are the most by a goaltender this postseason.
Although the Hawks’ came up short on Tuesday, Waterloo’s three postseason wins away from Young Arena were the most since 2014, when the team reached the Clark Cup Championship Series.
During the 2021/22 regular season, the Black Hawks were 28-30-4. It was a year which included the commemoration of 60 seasons of hockey in the Cedar Valley, as well as Waterloo’s 50th Thanksgiving home game. Preparations for the 61st season of hockey are underway with the completion of the 2022 USHL Draft over the past two days. Season tickets for 2022/23 are currently available from tickets.waterlooblackhawks.com.
Waterloo 0 0 0 - 0
Sioux City 1 0 2 - 3
1st Period-1, Sioux City, Heaslip 1 (Slukynsky, Pierre), 17:25. Penalties-Deckhut Sc (bench minor-too many men), 13:07.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Wylie Wat (tripping), 10:01.
3rd Period-2, Sioux City, Leppanen 1 (Pierre, Slukynsky), 7:24. 3, Sioux City, Steeves 3 (Antonacci, Bergmanis), 19:15 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Waterloo 4-7-5-16. Sioux City 10-7-6-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Waterloo 0 / 1; Sioux City 0 / 1.
Goalies-Waterloo, Croteau (22 shots-20 saves). Sioux City, Tracy (16 shots-16 saves).