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USHL Announces Changes to Playoff Format

02/27/2020, 1:15pm CST

Bracket Seeding and Best-of-Three Conference Semifinals in Place for 2020 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs

The United States Hockey League (USHL) announced Thursday the implementation of both a new playoff bracket and three-game Conference Semifinal series. Both of these changes will be in effect for the 2020 Clark Cup Playoffs, set to begin after the regular season concludes on Saturday, April 18. As in years past, six teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs.

Beginning in 2020, the USHL Clark Cup Playoffs will move to a playoff bracket where the winner of the #3 vs. #6 First Round series in each conference moves on to play the #2 seed while the #4 vs. #5 winner will move on to play the #1 seed.

“This change in scheduling gives a fan-friendly and familiar approach to the Clark Cup Playoffs for our fans and teams alike,” said USHL President and Commissioner Tom Garrity. “We’re excited for this new format, which aligns our playoff format with that of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and simplifies matchups and travel for our Member Clubs.”

Previously, the #1 and #2 seed in each conference, who both earn a First Round bye, waited until the end of the First Round to know which team they would play as the lowest remaining seed moved on to play the #1 seed while the other First Round winner played the #2 seed.

The other new change for this season, approved by the USHL Board of Governors in February of 2019, is the Conference Semifinals now played as a best-of-three series. Formerly, it was a best-of-five format. The Conference Semifinals will use a 1-2 format, meaning Game 1 will be played at the lower seed with Games 2 and 3 played at the higher seed. The First Round matchups in each conference will continue to have all three games played at the higher seeded team’s home venue.

As in years past, both the Conference Final and Clark Cup Final will remain best-of-five series.

2020 Clark Cup Playoff Dates
(exact game dates dependent on matchup and building availability)

First Round (best-of-three series, all games at higher seed): April 20-23
Conference Semifinals (best-of-three series, 1-2 format): April 24-29
Conference Finals (best-of-five series, 2-2-1 or 2-3 format, as chosen by higher seed): April 30 – May 7
Clark Cup Final (best-of-five series, 2-2-1 format): May 8-19

Be sure to check back to for the latest standings, as well as the latest news on Clark Cup Playoffs matchups and schedule.

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 18th season as the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league in 2019-20. The USHL had 55 players selected at the 2019 NHL Draft, and more than 800 alumni are currently on NCAA Division I rosters, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.

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