THE RETURNING CAST...Most notably about the Waterloo Black Hawks is the strength of their returners. Nick Swaney (30 goals), Shane Bowers (15 goals), Jake Ryczek (34 points) and Mikey Anderson (16 points) are just a few of the impact players back for the Hawks. Swaney and A-ranked skater Bowers lead the way in points, with Swaney already scoring at the same pace he put forth last season, and Bowers at a point-per-game pace.
POWER PLAY, RISING...Not only has the Dubuque Fighting Saints’ power play tallied in four consecutive games, but their conversion rating has nearly doubled. After the successful weekend in Youngstown, they jumped from 11th in the league to 6th, just a few percentage points off from Fargo, who ranks fourth with 18.8%.
THE FIRST MOVE IS YOURS...It’s early, yes, but Waterloo has struck first in five of the first nine games, and have won four of them. Heading into the weekend, it was the Fighting Saints who had only scored first twice in seven opportunities, and split those two games. They have since won the last two when scoring first.
THE FIRST MOVE IS YOURS, PT. 2...As a league, the team that strikes first wins 77.6% of the time, with a success rate of 57 wins in 76 opportunities. Waterloo has the second-most wins in that situation.
GUESS WHO’S BACK...After missing three games due to precautionary reasons, forward Colin Theisen is back in the lineup. He will factor in as the team’s 13th forward to get him up to speed. As of right now, the Dartmouth commit ranks third on the team with 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists).
BOWERS MAKES HIS SELECTION...And did it surprise anyone? Shane Bowers, an A-ranked skater in the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, has selected one of the go-to destinations in the NCAA—Boston University. He will face off against another top prospect in the USHL, Sioux City’s Eeli Tolvanen, at Boston College, many times in the future. Bowers has 42 points in 65 USHL games at just 17 years of age.
BEYDOUN’S A BRICK WALL...Once Robbie Beydoun shut out his former team in Fargo, he has since taken off. Several goaltenders have been better, which is remarkable, but his 1.45 goals-against average ranks fifth in the league, and his .949 save percentage ranks fourth in the USHL. The uncommitted goalie has a pair of shutouts.
KING CASTOR...Following four consecutive losses, Jaxon Castor brought his A-game to Youngstown. He won both games, stopped 40 of 41 shots (.975 sv%) in the two wins over the resurgent Phantoms.
THE MASTER ARCHITECT...Waterloo Black Hawks head coach P.K. O’Handley has been in Partytown since 2002, and during his tenure, the Hawks have only missed the playoffs twice. They made the Clark Cup Final four times in his 13 prior seasons behind the bench, capturing the ultimate prize in 2004 over the Tri-City Storm, who were the heavy favorites. His 433 regular season wins speak to his success (.546 win pct).
WELL OFF THE PACE...Even as impressive as the Waterloo returners have been, they are well off the league point pace at the top of the scoring race. Nick Swaney, who leads the way in points for the Hawks (10), still remains six points behind playmaker extraordinaire Austin Albrecht, whose 16 points lead everyone in Sioux Falls.