At the start of each United States Hockey League season, all 17 teams aspire to win the Anderson Cup by accumulating the most standings points. When mid-April rolls around, six clubs from each conference still have a chance to claim the Clark Cup and celebrate playoff excellence. These two trophies have been the pinnacle of achievement on the circuit since before 1979/80 when the USHL became an all-junior league.
Over the years, there have also been some other trophies on the landscape, and at different times, Waterloo players have lifted some other hardware. With games last weekend versus the Dubuque Fighting Saints and this Saturday against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders - all counting toward the Dupaco Cowbell Cup - we look back this week on some of those earlier trophies which represented rivalry bragging rights.
The Hawkeye Cup
When Waterloo entered the USHL, hockey was already established in Des Moines. By the early 1970s, Sioux City was getting into the game as well. The Musketeers were founded in 1972/73. Prior to that season, leaders of the Hawks, Muskies, and Des Moines Capitols (of the International Hockey League) decided to play each other for an Iowa championship, represented with a trophy called the Hawkeye Cup.
A sequence of round-robin games was scheduled for December of 1972, just before Christmas. On December 22nd, Waterloo scored four third period goals to pull away from the Sioux City Musketeers at McElroy Auditorium for a 6-3 win. Paul Johnson and Jim Smith each scored twice in the game. The next night in an exhibition against the Capitals, Waterloo won again at home. The score was the same, and once again, a four-goal third period made the difference. Bryan Matlock contributed a pair of goals.
The two wins in just over 24 hours were all the Hawks needed to claim the trophy. Sioux City earned the consolation of finishing second by defeating Des Moines.
Unfortunately, the scheduling difficulties related to three teams playing in two different leagues could not be overcome. The series was postponed the next year and ultimately discontinued.
The Norwest Bank Iowa Cup
The arrival of the North Iowa Huskies in the 1980s put a USHL opponent closer to Waterloo than ever before (about ten miles closer than Dubuque, anyway). By the mid-1990s, the two teams were involved in a rivalry series with a title on the line.
Competition for the Norwest Bank Iowa Cup was based on the complete USHL season series between the teams each winter. Arguably the most exciting schedule of games – and certainly the one with the oddest finish – happened in 1992/93.
The six-game series began on Halloween; Waterloo prevailed 3-1 that night behind 30 saves from Paul Spencer. The Huskies leveled the win-total in early December, but two nights later, Waterloo was back on top. On December 16th, the Huskies were back, thanks to and overtime win; on New Year’s Eve, they pushed the series to the brink by topping Waterloo 7-5, despite five points from the Hawks' Dave Garbarino.
Jason Blake had the answer in the series finale. Blake scored two goals and assisted on a third, Todd Steinmetz had three assists, and Waterloo outskated North Iowa, 4-1. That tied the Iowa Cup standings at three wins apiece. The teams had agreed that such a stalemate would be settled by a shootout after the final game. P.K. O’Handley’s Huskies carried the title out of McElroy Auditorium by winning that shootout 2-0 at the conclusion of a game they had lost.
Waterloo bounced back to win the Norwest Bank competition each of the next two years.
The Corridor Cup
North Iowa’s relocation to Cedar Rapids led to a rebirth of the Norwest Bank Iowa Cup as the iWireless Corridor Cup. The Hawks didn’t need any extra incentives to stoke highly intense games and an immediate rivalry with the rebranded Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
The greatest finale in this history of that trophy’s run came at the end of the 2006/07 series, and the Corridor Cup itself was either an afterthought or a placeholder, depending on your perspective.
The eight-game series between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids favored the Hawks 4-3 going to the final night of the regular season at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Of greater significance, Waterloo led the Anderson Cup race by one point ahead of both the RoughRiders and Omaha Lancers. In that position, a win of any kind would have given the Hawks the league’s regular season title. A regulation loss would have meant that the RoughRiders would have either claimed the Anderson Cup outright or shared it with Omaha for the second time in three years. Had Cedar Rapids defeated Waterloo in overtime, all three teams could have split regular season honors.
The RoughRiders scored first, midway through the first period, and maintained their 1-0 lead through the second intermission. Less than a minute into the third, Ryan Cramer evened the score with an unassisted goal. Cedar Rapids nudged ahead seven minutes later, but with 8:47 to go, Vinnie LoVerde hit the net to level the count again.
Then with under three minutes on the clock, Paul Weisgarber went to the goal mouth. The future Air Force cadet had played in less than three-quarters of Waterloo’s games and had just four goals on the season. He recorded one of the biggest scores in Black Hawks history: left unmarked to receive a pass from James Marcou, Weisgarber put his shot past future NHL goalie Richard Bachman. It was the only lead the Black Hawks would need; the game finished 3-2.
Due to the uncertainty of having three teams near the top of the standings, the USHL had elected not to bring the Anderson Cup to Cedar Rapids. As a result, the Hawks celebrated wildly with the Corridor Cup as hundreds of Waterloo fans who had made the trip cheered from the stands.
The Dupaco Cowbell Cup
The Cowbell Cup was initiated in in 2011/12, the second season after the Dubuque Fighting Saints returned to the USHL. This will be the eighth year the trophy is presented to either the Hawks, Saints, or RoughRiders, and it is the fourth year that the series has been sponsored by Dupaco Community Credit Union. The trophy was completely overhauled in 2015 upon Dupaco’s arrival as presenting sponsor.
Waterloo is seeking to retain the Dupaco Cowbell Cup for an unprecedented third consecutive year. The Hawks currently lead the series standings with eight points, versus two apiece for Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.
History of Dupaco Cowbell Cup Winners
2011/12 - Dubuque
2012/13 - Dubuque
2013/14 - Waterloo
2014/15 - Dubuque
2015/16 - Cedar Rapids
2016/17 - Waterloo
2017/18 - Waterloo
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