USHL Playoffs Game Night 4/27: Waterloo Moves On


Game 3: (2) Waterloo Black Hawks 3 @ (4) Chicago Steel 2 (OT)
Waterloo wins Best of 5 series 3-0

W/C Luca Cunti, CHI:
Game: Did not play
Series: 2 GP, 0-1-1, E, 1 shot on goal
Playoffs: 6 GP, 2-3-5, +1, 2 PIM, 11 shots on goal
Season: 34 GP, 11-21-32, +16, 37 PIM, 79 shots on goal

The Black Hawks completed a sweep of Chicago on the Steel’s home ice when Keegan Meuer, who had just 2 goals in the regular season for Waterloo, scored at 5:26 of overtime. The win sends Waterloo to the Clark Cup championship against either Omaha or Lincoln. This is the second consecutive trip to the finals for Waterloo, and third in the past five years. Cunti did not play for Chicago in Game 3. No reason has been reported so far for his absence.

What’s Next for Cunti: The one-time St. Cloud State University commit cannot (re-)begin his collegiate career, despite the fact Cunti has continued to take online classes since leaving the program, because the NCAA Clearinghouse has ruled him ineligible for amateur status. This was done despite Cunti not earning any money for playing in the lower Swiss professional leagues. Cunti, who will be 19 on the 4th of July, could be signed by the Lightning and placed within the system, return home to Switzerland to play, or enter the CHL Import Draft and be placed within the Canadian Hockey League next season. Entering last season, Cunti was extremely focused on going the collegiate route for the education and practice time.

“In the Canadian league … it’s more games, but more games is also very difficult for me as a Swiss guy [who plays] only 30 or 40 games a year,” Cunti told CCHA correspondent Paula Weston at the draft last year. “It’s also harder because if you get injured, I won’t go to the NHL, and I don’t want to have [an] injury.”

The NCAA Clearinghouse changed that opinion, however. After his up and down season practicing with SCSU and in the USHL, Cunti is rethinking his options and told McKeen’s Hockey he hasn’t made plans for next year. He said at the time he was waiting for guidance from the Lightning. Considering the Lightning’s wishes for other developing prospects with options such as Kevin Quick to play junior hockey in Canada, look for Cunti to end up playing in the WHL, OHL, or QMJHL next season.