WATERLOO, Iowa | Good things happen when defensemen score goals for the Sioux City Musketeers.
Matt Hellickson is the latest of the Musketeers’ goal-scoring blue liners. Hellickson rifled a shot that ricocheted off a Waterloo skate with 21 seconds remaining in the second period during a 3-0 victory in Game 3 of the United States Hockey League’s Western Conference Finals Friday night at Young Arena.
Goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks posted his second shutout of the Clark Cup Playoffs for a Sioux City squad that has regained home ice advantage. Coach Jay Varady’s Musketeers, which have received goals from four different defensemen while going 5-1 in postseason play, are now one victory away from winning the series, which will continue tonight at Waterloo’s Olympic-sized home rink.
The second period was big for the Anderson Cup champions, which received a power-play goal from Tarek Baker 5 ½ minutes into the frame. Special teams play was also a factor as Sioux City’s penalty kill stopped three Waterloo power play chances in the middle period.
Sioux City has scored a power-play goal in each of its six Clark Cup Playoff games, where it is 6 of 15 in man-advantage situations. Baker notched his second postseason goal nine seconds after Waterloo’s Garrett Klee was whistled for a hooking penalty.
Baker matched the postseason goal total he recorded a year ago for the Bloomington Thunder, which fell to the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the Eastern Conference Finals. Charlie Kelleher, who missed Sunday’s 2-1 Game 2 overtime loss because of the flu, assisted on the power-play goal along with Aapeli Rasanen.
Sioux City’s penalty kill ranked fourth in the regular season, going 88 percent. The Western Conference’s regular-season champions, 2-0 on the road in the postseason, killed all five penalties in the game and remained perfect in 21 chances for the playoffs.
Waterloo’s power play finished the regular season third in the USHL at 21.2 percent. The Black Hawks had a 5-on-3 advantage for over a minute in the second period when Kelleher went to the penalty box for interference and 53 seconds later, J.C. MacLean joined him for too many men on the ice, but Sioux City killed both penalties.
The Musketeers also killed two third-period penalties while helping Kivlenieks, the USHL’s goaltender and player of the year, maintain his shutout.
Kivlenieks faced a challenge when his counterpart between the pipes, Robbie Beydoun, was pulled with 1:43 left in the game, giving Waterloo an extra attacker. Kivlenieks made one key save in that situation and benefited from teammate Odeen Tufto, whose third goal of the playoffs came on an empty-netter with 37 seconds remaining.
It was the first time Waterloo had been shut out in the Clark Cup Playoffs. The USHL’s highest scoring team in the regular season with 210 goals, the Black Hawks were blanked only once while posting a league-best 24-4-2 record at Young Arena in the regular season.