All season long, it was the stifling defense that carried the Waterloo Warriors hockey team to the top of the Midwest High School Hockey League (MHSHL) standings. On March 3, the Warriors’ defense was at its best when it needed to be, pitching a shutout over the final two periods as Waterloo rallied for a 2-1 victory over rival Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to win the MHSHL tournament. For defensemen Chris Webb and Josh Bechthold, students at Union High School, that means the team will advance to the National Tournament, where the Warriors will hope to duplicate last year’s success of division opponent Sioux City Metros, who claimed the 2018 Division II National Championship.

Webb, a junior, appeared in 17 varsity games and 16 junior varsity games this season. Bechthold, a freshman, logged significant minutes in 25 junior varsity games.

Waterloo came into the varsity league tournament as the top seed. The junior varsity team placed second in the regular season standings with a 23-8 record.

It was a record-setting year for the 2018-19 Warriors, as the team began the season in October and did not lose until February 13, when the RoughRiders defeated them, 4-1. That made Waterloo’s victory in the championship game all the sweeter. Going into the game, Waterloo had confidence, knowing they had won three of the four previous games against Cedar Rapids, the highest scoring team in the league.

After giving up a first period goal, tournament MVP Carter Herbst from Denver High School got the equalizer in the second period. Later in the same period, the team’s leading scorer Ben Sinnott, a Waterloo Columbus junior, gave the Warriors a lead they would not relinquish. The victory capped a season where Waterloo posted an overall record of 32-2.

Following the game, Herbst was named Tournament MVP and Warriors head Coach Brian Cook was named MHSHL Coach of the Year. The Division II National Tournament will be held in Cleveland, Ohio March 28 – April 1.