KEARNEY — Waterloo got the lucky bounces.
Now the Black Hawks head home for two games with the Tri-City Storm with their best-of-five Western Conference final tied at 1-1.
Scoring first and last Saturday night at the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, Waterloo came away with a 3-1 victory in the second game.
It was essentially a one-goal game — Waterloo scored an empty-net goal with 6.9 seconds left — that the Black Hawks led most of the time. Ben Newhouse scored 3 minutes, 11 seconds into the first period and Tri-City wouldn’t answer until midway through the second period.
“It was a lucky bounce on the first one. It changed directions — no chance for Jake (Kielly). That bounce was a lucky one,” Tri-City coach Bill Muckalt said.
The goal, which deflected off a Storm defender past Kielly, ended a 110-minute scoreless streak for Kielly, who has allowed only five goals in the Storm’s five playoff games.
Waterloo built the pressure early. A power-play opportunity quickly followed the goal by Newhouse and the Black Hawks, out-shot the Storm 12-7 in the first period.
“I thought they carried the game in the first period and we carried the second period,” Muckalt said.
Tri-City pounded Waterloo goalie Cale Morris with 18 shots in the second period, but only one got through.
Carson Meyer, scoring his fourth goal of the postseason, tied the score, but another strange bounce with just over two minutes left in the period put Waterloo on top to stay.
Zach Von knocked an air-borne puck to teammate Yuri Terao on the other side of the goal and Terao tapped it in.
“We gave up that goal late in the second and we just couldn’t get the one in the third we needed to keep it going,” Muckalt said.
Tri-City put eight shots on goal in the third period, including a break-away, one-on-one chance by Wade Allison with six minutes left. But Morris came up with the save to preserve the win.
Now the Storm goes on the road needing to win at least one to bring the series home, or a two-game sweep to advance to the Clark Cup finals.
“There’s some things we want to do better with puck management and things like that. So we will address those things in practice, get back to the drawing board on Monday,” Muckalt said.
The Storm will have the better part of a week to iron out the
“We’ve played extremely well on the road this year,” Muckalt said. “We know it’s a tough opponent. ... We have to keep playing, keep working hard. The fans can’t play the game, each team has to play it, but we have to find a way to put our best foot forward Friday and just keep it the six inches in front of our face. ... We knew we weren’t going to go 9-0 in these playoffs. Now it’s all about the next game.