Waterloo Black Hawks

The Waterloo Black Hawks are a Tier I junior ice hockey team playing in the Western Conference of the United States Hockey League (USHL) under president and general manager P.K. O'Handley. The Black Hawks' home ice is the Young Arena in Waterloo, Iowa.

Waterloo Black Hawks
Waterloo Black Hawks 2021 PNG.png
CityWaterloo, Iowa
LeagueUnited States Hockey League
Home arenaYoung Arena
ColorsBlack, red, and white
General managerP. K. O'Handley
Head coachMatt Smaby
MediaKCNZ, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, KWWL
Franchise history
First franchise
1962–1980Waterloo Black Hawks
1980–2001Dubuque Fighting Saints
2001–2002Tulsa Crude
Current franchise
1979–1980Hennepin Nordiques
1980–presentWaterloo Black Hawks
Regular season titles3 Anderson Cups (2006–07, 2013–14, 2017–18)
Division titles3 (1980, 2003, 2008)
Conference titles1 (2014)
Playoff championships1 Clark Cup (2004)


Early historyEdit

The Waterloo Black Hawks began as a semi-professional senior team in the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 1962. The league had been renamed prior to the season after beginning in 1948 as the American Amateur Hockey League. The team's home ice was the McElroy Auditorium. The team won the USHL championship consecutively between the seasons of 1964 and 1968. After the 1968–69 season, the Black Hawks went on a one-year hiatus to become the Minnesota North Stars' top farm team, the Iowa Stars. The Stars finished 35–26–11 in 1969–70, one point behind league champion Omaha (whom the Stars would later lose to in the Central Professional Hockey League final series). The Stars reverted to the Black Hawks and the USHL the next year amid financial losses topping $150,000 and the Stars move to Cleveland.[citation needed]

Early junior historyEdit

After league titles in 1978, and 1979 in a hybrid junior-senior format, the Black Hawks converted to junior hockey with the rest of the USHL in 1979–80. They won the Southern Division title in 1979–80 before head coach Jack Barzee moved the team to Dubuque the next season, becoming the Fighting Saints in the process. The Hennepin Nordiques then moved to Waterloo before the 1980–81 campaign. The "new" Black Hawks retained the history, logos, and arena of the old team.

Following the retirement of head coach Scott Mikesch in 1980, the team went through eight different head coaches from 1980 to 1992. Five of them coached between 1980 and 1982. After the team's Southern Division title in 1980, the Black Hawks did not have a winning season again until 1993–94, winning 20 games (in a 48-game season) four times during that span.


The Black Hawks turned out several future National Hockey League (NHL) players in the early 1990s. Twin leading forwards Chris Ferraro and Peter Ferraro came over from Dubuque midway through the 1991–92 season and scored a combined 200 points from their time that year in Waterloo and Dubuque. Two seasons later, Jason Blake had 50 goals and 50 assists, the first 50-goal, 50-assist player in the USHL since Thunder Bay's Terry Menard seven years prior.

In 1994, the Black Hawks moved out of the old McElroy Auditorium into the new Young Arena in downtown Waterloo. New owner Butch Johnson's purchased the team in 1997. The records did not improve, and the team failed to finish above .500 again until the 1999–2000 season. New head coach Scott Pionk in 1997–98 had a 25–29–2 record, but a 16–37–3 record the next season led to his departure. Scott Koberinski had a 28–26–4 record in 1999–2000, followed by a 25–29–2 record the next year, but a 21–38–2 record in 2001–02 led to another coaching change.


New coach P.K. O'Handley brought immediate changes to the Black Hawks in 2002–03 and Waterloo won their first division championship in 23 years with a 38–17–5 record and finishing two points behind the Lincoln Stars in the Anderson Cup standings. The next season brought the Hawks' first USHL Clark Cup championship win, and the first league title of any kind since 1979, despite finishing fourth in the Eastern Division. The Black Hawks also won the Anderson Cup regular season title in 2006–07, their first regular season title for the Black Hawks in the junior era. The team was one game away from winning the 2007 Clark Cup before they were beaten 3–0 by the Sioux Falls Stampede in the championship game. The made it to the 2008 Clark Cup Finals, but lost 4–3 to the Omaha Lancers in overtime in the final game of the series. Waterloo was also defeated in a five-game finals series by the Green Bay Gamblers in 2012 and once more in 2014 by the Indiana Ice. However, the Hawks did win additional Anderson Cups in 2013–14 and 2017–18.

Of the 31 Black Hawks alumni who have gone on to appear in the NHL, 22 played for O'Handley, including Joe Pavelski, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Brock Boeser. In the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, forwards Vladislav Firstov[1] (42nd) and Matej Blumel[2] (100th) were drafted to the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers, respectively.

The Black Hawks won the USHL Organization of the Year award for the 2002–03, 2004–05, and 2006–07 seasons. At the time, the USHL said of the Black Hawks in 2007, "Once a franchise in a state of disarray, the Waterloo Black Hawks are now among the teams that sets the standard for how a team should be run."[3] P.K. O'Handley also won Coach of the Year honors for the 2002–03, 2006–07, 2013–14, and 2017–18 seasons[4] and the General Manager of Year award for the 2002–03, 2011–12, 2017–18 seasons.[5]


O'Handley stepped down from his coaching position after the 2020–21 season to focus on the off-ice aspects of operating the team.[6] The Black Hawks hired former NHL player Matt Smaby as head coach beginning with the 2021–22 season.[7]


The Black Hawks have had ongoing rivalries with other USHL teams, including the current "Corridor Cup" rivalry with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Other rivalries include a former rivalry with the original Dubuque Fighting Saints (which were the Black Hawks prior to 1980), a rivalry with the Sioux City Musketeers (the only teams left from the 1979 USHL transformation; the Des Moines Buccaneers were added to the league a year later), and the Buccaneers. During the 1990s, the Black Hawks - Buccaneers rivalry was not as active as it is now, with the Buccaneers' at the top of the league and the Black Hawks' lower down in the USHL's league tables. In 2010, the USHL saw the renewal of the rivalry between Dubuque and Waterloo. Dubuque took back the old name of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and renewed the rivalry between the two teams. Currently Waterloo shares a four-way rivalry with Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines in the Dupaco Cowbell Cup.


As of September 21, 2022.[8]

No. S/P/C Player Pos Ht Wt DoB Hometown Previous team College commitment
4   Keith McInnis D 6' 1" 187 lb 2006-01-08 Red Deer, Alberta Yale Hockey Academy (Midget AAA) North Dakota
6   Sam Rinzel D 6' 4" 181 lb 2004-06-25 Chanhassen, Minnesota Chaska (USHS–MN) Minnesota
9   Aaron Pionk D 6' 2" 170 lb 2003-01-16 Hermantown, Minnesota Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL) Minnesota State
12   Jake McLean F 6' 1" 185 lb 2002-07-27 North Vancouver, British Columbia Bismarck (NAHL) Bemidji State
13   Jaedon Kerr D 6' 4" 215 lb 2003-09-13 Fishers, Indiana Culver Prep (Midget AAA) None
14   Griffin Erdman F 5' 10" 175 lb 2005-02-10 Wilmington, Delaware Long Island Gulls U18 (Midget AAA) Dartmouth
16   Owen Baker F 5' 10" 180 lb 2004-01-29 Howell, Michigan HoneyBaked U18 (Midget AAA) Michigan State
17   Connor Brown F 5' 10" 170 lb 2005-05-03 Estero, Florida Florida Alliance U16 (Midget AAA) Western Michigan
18   Patrick Geary D 6' 0" 190 lb 2004-02-18 Hamburg, New York Buffalo Jr. Sabres U18 (Midget AAA) Michigan State
19   James Hong F 5' 10" 175 lb 2004-11-22 Irvine, California Anaheim Jr. Ducks U18 (Midget AAA) Minnesota State
20   Gavin Lindberg F 6' 0" 187 lb 2004-04-20 Moorhead, Minnesota Moorhead (USHS–MN) Colorado College
21   Ben Robertson D 5' 10" 185 lb 2004-09-18 Potomac Falls, Virginia Omaha (USHL) Cornell
22   Myles Hilman F 5' 9" 180 lb 2003-10-15 Blackfalds, Alberta Drumheller (AJHL) Omaha
24   Oliver Flynn F 6' 1" 205 lb 2003-06-13 Wolcott, Connecticut Loomis Chaffee (USHS–CT) UConn
25   Grayson Badger F 6' 2" 180 lb 2004-05-09 Hyde Park, Massachusetts Dexter Southfield (USHS–MA) Northeastern
26   Nicholas DeGraves F 5' 11" 172 lb 2003-05-19 Edmonton, Alberta Brooks (AJHL) None
27   Tyler Procious D 5' 10" 180 lb 2003-05-29 Pittsford, New York Muskegon (USHL) None
28   Garrett Schifsky F 5' 10" 170 lb 2003-04-08 Andover, Minnesota Andover (USHS–MN) Michigan
29   Gavin O'Connell F 6' 0" 185 lb 2004-02-19 Wayzata, Minnesota Wayzata (USHS–MN) Minnesota Duluth
30   Jack Spicer G 6' 1" 180 lb 2004-04-28 Rockville, Maryland Mount Saint Charles U18 (Midget AAA) None
52   Aidan Shirey D 6' 0" 191 lb 2005-04-06 Barrington, Illinois Windy City Storm U18 (Midget AAA) Colorado College
70   Emmett Croteau G 6' 3" 200 lb 2003-12-07 Bonnyville, Alberta Ontario Jr. Reign U18 (Midget AAA) Clarkson
82   Gavyn Thoreson F 5' 9" 180 lb 2004-10-30 Andover, Minnesota Andover (USHS–MN) St. Cloud State
89   Zach Bade F 6' 2" 180 lb 2003-04-26 Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota Springfield (NAHL) None
91   David Klee F 6' 3" 187 lb 2005-05-10 Castle Rock, Colorado Colorado Thunderbirds U18 (Midget AAA) North Dakota

Notable Black HawksEdit

Former Black Hawks in professional hockeyEdit

Among the Black Hawks alumni in the National Hockey League:[9]

Former Black Hawks in other sportsEdit

  • Michael Annett NASCAR (Most Improved Player and member of Championship team in 2004)


  1. ^ "Vladislav Firstov at eliteprospects.com". www.eliteprospects.com. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  2. ^ "Matej Blümel at eliteprospects.com". www.eliteprospects.com. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  3. ^ "USHL Names Its Best For 2006-07". USHL. 16 April 2007. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011.
  4. ^ "Coach of the Year". USHL. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  5. ^ "GM of the Year". USHL. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  6. ^ "O'Handley Refocuses on Off-Ice Responsibilities". OurSports Central. June 22, 2021.
  7. ^ "Smaby Next Hawks Head Coach". Waterloo Black Hawks. July 27, 2021.
  8. ^ "Waterloo Black Hawks Roster". USHL. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  9. ^ "Black Hawks in the NHL". www.waterlooblackhawks.com. Retrieved 2019-06-25.

External linksEdit