Blackhawks begin final series for elusive Clark Cup tonight

History hasn’t been kind to the Waterloo Blackhawks in recent years when it comes to the Clark Cup Finals. Most teams would be thrilled to participate in five final series’s in the last 11 years, but after losing the last three finals the team has been in, the Blackhawks are chasing the title that has eluded them since 2004: Clark Cup champions.

That last obstacle will stare the Blackhawks right in the eye when they visit Young Arena. That obstacle is the Indiana Ice. The Ice are led by the United States Hockey League’s fourth leading scorer, Scott Conway, who lead the team with 68 points on the season. They also are strong between the pipes with one of the top goaltenders in the USHL, Hayden Stewart, who allows just 2.13 goals against him a game and saves .919 percent of shots that are fired at his net, ranking second and fourth respectively in the league.

The Ice aren’t the only team with playmakers. The Western Conference champion Blackhawks have forwards Peter Krieger and Liam Pecoraro and defenseman Brandon Montour all in the top 10 in points scored. The Blackhawks are anchored defensively by goaltender Cal Petersen, a Waterloo native and Notre Dame commit. The four previously mentioned Blackhawks will join the list of 110 players that have gone on to play collegiate hockey and hope to join a seven player list, headlined by all-star Joe Pavelski, as NHL professionals.

Both teams have played seven games so far in the postseason. The Ice were able to beat the 2012 Clark Cup champion Green Bay Gamblers in four games and sweep last year’s champions, the Dubuque Fighting Saints, in rout to their first Clark Cup finals appearance since they won it all in 2009. The Blackhawks swept the Sioux Falls Stampede and make it past the Sioux City Musketeers in four games on their way to their second appearance in three years in the finals.

The Blackhawks won the Anderson Cup as the regular season champions at  44-11-5, just two points better than the Ice who finished 42-11-7. The two best teams in the USHL, record wise, will begin their series on Friday, May 9 for game one and Sunday, May 11 for game two at Young Arena before heading to Indiana for game three.

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