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Game 5 Western Conference Finals Preview: Waterloo at Tri-City

Posted 3 years 13 days ago ago by David Fine

Kearney, Neb. – The Tri-City Storm hosts a do-or-die Game 5 of the Clark Cup Western Conference Finals at the Viaero Center on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:05 p.m. The Storm and Hawks have split the first four games, with each team taking one at home and one on the road. 

Tuesday's winner advances to the Clark Cup Finals. Tickets are available now at the Viaero Center Box Office (call: 308-338-8011) and online at

The Storm is led by first-year Head Coach Bill Muckalt, who guided Tri-City to its first regular season Western Conference title since 2004. The Black Hawks are coached by 20th-year head man P.K. O'Handley, who owns a USHL-record 606 regular-season wins.

Deciding game history 
Tuesday marks the Storm’s fourth winner-take-all game in the Clark Cup Playoffs. In the first three, Tri-City is 2-1. The Storm’s last do-or-die contest was in 2007 when it beat Sioux City, 4-3, in seven games during the first round.

Before this season, the Storm played all of its previous deciding games in three straight postseasons (2005-07). This Clark Cup Playoffs is the first time Tri-City has played a series-clinching game after the first round. 

Since Waterloo Head Coach P.K. O’Handley took over the club in 2002-03, the Black Hawks are 1-6 in do-or-die games with losses in six straight. The last time Waterloo won a deciding game was 2004 in the opening round against Chicago (the only time the Black Hawks have won a Clark Cup under O’Handley). More recently, the Hawks have lost in its last three postseason appearances (2012-14).  

The Black Hawks are one of the USHL’s original franchises from the league’s junior origins in 1979-80. Waterloo is 12-23 all time in elimination games. Tri-City is 4-7 in elimination contests since the USHL became a Tier-I league in 2002. 

Who's producing the points?
The Storm and Black Hawks have each had 15 players record at least a point in the series. Prior to Game 4, a 7-4 Waterloo win, the Hawks only had eight players record a point. 

Carson Meyer has three goals and four points this series to lead the Storm. The 18-year-old from Powell, Ohio is tied for the USHL postseason lead with five goals. Meyer and Dan Labosky are tied with nine postseason points. Labosky, who has a goal and three points against the Hawks, is one of ten Tri-City players to earn more than one point in this round. 

Nick Swaney had a hat trick and four points against the Storm in Game 4, tying the forward with Tri-City's Meyer for the USHL postseason goals lead. Swaney leads all players with four goals this series. He's best on the Hawks with eight playoff points. Jake Wahlin and Swaney each have five points this series.

Kielly’s postseason record
Jake Kielly has recorded a Storm postseason record three shutouts, blanking the Waterloo Black Hawks in Game 1, 4-0, and Game 3, 3-0.

Storm goalies have recorded five postseason shutouts (Peter Mannino - 2004, Mike Zaccharias - 2005) and it has taken Kielly seven Clark Cup games to record three.

Two of Kielly’s shutouts have come in Game 1 of a round; the 19-year-old backstopper from Eden Prairie, MN made 27 saves in the first game of the postseason against the Sioux Falls Stampede. He followed up with 32 saves in the opening game vs. Waterloo.

Kielly is 5-2 with a USHL-best 1.58 goals against average and a .952 save percentage, stopping 216 of 227 shots thrown on net. During the regular season, Kielly had a .919 save percentage, Tri-City’s single-season record.

What’s on the line?
The Storm is seeking its second ever appearance in the Clark Cup Finals. The last time Tri-City made it was 2004, when Waterloo defeated the Storm, 3-1, in a best-of-five series. 

Waterloo is looking to make its fifth championship round. The Hawks last made it in 2014, falling to the Indiana Ice in five games.

The Storm seeks its first series win over the Black Hawks after losing in 2004 and 2010.

Game 5 at the Viaero Center is on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:05 p.m., featuring $5 Kids Tickets and $6 College Tickets. 

Storm postseason games can be heard on The Breeze 94.5 FM – Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. for games one and two with the Viaero Wireless Pregame Show.

Western Conference Finals Schedule:
#3 Waterloo Black Hawks vs. #1 Tri-City Storm
GAME 1: Friday, April 29, 7:05 p.m. (Viaero Center) – Tri-City 4, Waterloo 0
GAME 2: Saturday, April 30, 7:05 p.m. (Viaero Center) – Waterloo 3, Tri-City 1
GAME 3: Friday, May 6, 7:05 p.m. (Young Arena) – Tri-City 3, Waterloo 0
GAME 4: Saturday, May 7, 7:05 p.m. (Young Arena) – Waterloo 7, Tri-City 4
GAME 5: Tuesday, May 10, 7:05 p.m. (Viaero Center) 

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