The Waterloo Black Hawks clinched the Dupaco Cowbell Cup and moved within one point of first place in the United States Hockey League Western Conference by defeating the Dubuque Fighting Saints 5-1 at Young Arena on Saturday.

Each winter, the Dupaco Cowbell Cup is awarded to the top USHL team in eastern Iowa based on a series of games between the Hawks, Saints and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Saturday’s win bumped Waterloo to 8-0-2 in contests which count for the title. Meanwhile, an Omaha Lancers loss on Saturday, coupled with the Hawks win, sliced the Lancers’ conference lead to the slimmest of margins.

Joey Cassetti put the Hawks in front for the first time 2:03 into the game, rifling a shot into the net from the right circle after receiving Solag Bakich’s pass across the slot. Jared Moe made several strong saves in the first, including a stop on Adam Tisdale while sliding from right to left with 12-and-a-half minutes left in the period. However, just 52.6 seconds before intermission, Matias Macelli tied the game, stuffing in a chance from the top of the crease.

Ben Finkelstein took over in the second, setting up three Waterloo scores. At 2:23, the defenseman rushed up the ice into the left wing corner, dropping a pass back to a trailing Bakich. Putting the Hawks back ahead and claiming his second point of the night, Bakich snapped a low shot to the short side, past Cole Weaver’s glove.

At 9:40, Weaver couldn’t control a Finkelstein shot from the right point; Garrett Wait pounced on the rebound to slide in an insurance goal. Then Finkelstein’s speed pushed the Hawks farther ahead at 19:25. Deep in the zone again after moving up the right half wall, he found Jackson Cates just outside the crease; a nifty move by Waterloo’s leading scorer allowed Cates to knock in his 30th goal of the season.

Cates capped the scoring at 8:00 of the third. Wait’s shot popped out of relief goalie James Durham’s glove, right to Cates, who was waiting to score into an open side.
Moe ended the night with 30 saves for his 17th win of the season.

Saturday was the first of three consecutive home games. Next weekend, the Hawks host the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17s. Friday’s game features $2 Bud Light for fans age 21 and over. The Black Hawks Family 4 Pack is available for both games. For tickets, call the Black Hawks Box Office at (319) 291-7680.

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