skip navigation

Friday Feature: 2021 Clark Cup Playoffs Primer – Conference Finals

05/07/2021, 12:15pm CDT
By Brent Meske

Check Up on All the Information You Need Before the Clark Cup Playoffs Conference Finals Begin Tonight

Eastern Conference Matchup: (1) Chicago Steel vs. (2) Muskegon Lumberjacks

Game 1 – Friday, May 7 at Fox Valley Ice Arena (7:05 p.m. CT)
Game 2 – Saturday, May 8 at Mercy Health Arena (7:10 p.m. ET)
Game 3 – Monday, May 10 at Fox Valley Ice Arena (7:05 p.m. CT)*

Chicago (5-4-1-0 overall, 3-2-0-0 home, 2-2-1-0 road)
Muskegon (5-5-0-0 overall, 3-2-0-0 home, 2-3-0-0 road)

When We Last Met:

  • The last time Chicago and Muskegon met in the Clark Cup Playoffs was the Eastern Conference Final of the 2019 Playoffs. The Steel won the series 3-1 en route to their second Clark Cup Final appearance. Three of the four games were one-goal contests, including a pair of Chicago overtime wins. The teams split the games played at Mercy Health Arena (formerly L.C. Walker Arena) in Muskegon while Chicago won both games played at Fox Valley Ice Arena. In the Playoffs, Chicago holds a 5-2-0-0 record head-to-head while Muskegon is 2-2-3-0.

What to Watch For:

  • Coin Toss Matchup: Chicago and Muskegon are nearly identical this season in head-to-head matchups with Chicago holding a slight advantage with a 5-4-1-0 record. The Lumberjacks are 5-5-0-0 against the Steel this season. Both teams are 3-2-0-0 on home ice.
  • Offense Is King: The Steel and Lumberjacks combined for the top five points and goal scorers in the regular season. Sean Farrell (101), Matthew Coronato (85), Josh Doan (70) and Erik Middendorf (68) accounted for the top-four spots in the USHL scoring race while Daniil Gushchin (64), Cameron Berg (58), Cristophe Tellier (54) and Tanner Kelly (47) were 5th, 7th 9th and 18th in league scoring, respectively.
  • Stopping the Steel: Chicago enters the series having won its last 10 games dating back to the regular season, including a pair of wins over the Lumberjacks. During the regular season, the Steel had the best home (21-5-0-1) and road (17-6-3-1) road records this season while the Lumberjacks were the second-best road team (17-8-2-0) and fourth-best home club (17-8-0-2).
  • On the Road Again: Both teams will hit the road for the first time this postseason after both teams were the higher ranked squad and hosted both games they played in the Conference Semifinals. The Steel and Lumberjacks were the best two teams on the road this regular season with 17-6-3-1 and 17-8-2-0 records, respectively.
  • Streaking Scorers: Chicago Steel forward Matthew Coronato enters the Eastern Conference Final on a 10-game point streak (12-7-19) with six of those points (3-3-6) coming in the Eastern Conference Semifinal sweep of the Dubuque Fighting Saints. For the Lumberjacks, Cristophe Tellier enters on a seven-game point streak (4-4-8) with a goal in each of the two Semifinal wins for Muskegon.

Players to Watch:
Chicago: Sean Farrell

  • Montreal Canadiens prospect (2020, Round 4, #124 overall) Sean Farrell made his presence known in all 10 meetings this season, registering at least one point in every game. The Harvard University commit had 22 points (10-12-22), including five multi-point games and a hat trick. Farrell enters the Conference Final with seven assists in his last two games against the Lumberjacks.

Muskegon: Daniil Gushchin

  • Like Farrell, Daniil Gushchin enters the Conference Final having found the scoresheet in all nine of his appearances against the Steel this season. The San Jose Sharks prospect (2020, Round 3, #76 overall) recorded 23 points (12-11-23), including seven multi-point games and three hat tricks. Gushchin did not appear in the final matchup of the season including hat tricks in his last two appearances against the Steel.

NHL Draft Picks:

  • Ian Moore, CHI (Anaheim Ducks, 2020, Round 3, #67 overall)
  • Daniil Gushchin, MUS (San Jose Sharks, 2020, Round 3, #76 overall)
  • Sean Farrell, CHI (Montreal Canadiens, 2020, Round 4, #124 overall)
  • Kyle Aucoin, MUS (Detroit Red Wings, 2020, Round 6, #156 overall)
  • Joe Miller, CHI (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2020, Round 6, #180 overall)
  • Timofei Spitserov, MUS (San Jose Sharks, 2020, Round 7, #210 overall)

Top Head-to-Head Scorers:

  • Chicago Steel
    • Sean Farrell: 10-12-22 (10 games)
    • Matthew Coronato: 7-6-13 (8 games)
    • Josh Doan: 8-5-13 (9 games)
    • Erik Middendorf: 6-4-10 (9 games)
    • Mackie Samoskevich: 1-8-9 (5 games)
    • Ryan Ufko: 1-8-9 (8 games)
  • Muskegon Lumberjacks
    • Daniil Gushchin: 12-11-23 (9 games)
    • Dylan Wendt: 5-9-14 (10 games)
    • Cameron Berg: 3-9-12 (8 games)
    • Cristophe Tellier: 4-6-10 (9 games)
    • Nick Portz: 3-5-8 (6 games)

Goaltenders Head-to-Head:

  • Chicago Steel
    • Simon Latkoczy: 2-1-0-0, 0.861 SV%, 3.71 GAA
    • Nick Haas: 2-1-0-0, 0.851 SV%, 4.33 GAA
    • Jack Stark: 1-1-0-0, 0.811 SV%, 5.13 GAA
  • Muskegon Lumberjacks
    • Nathan Reid: 2-2-0-0, 0.822 SV%, 5.12 GAA (6 appearances)
    • Jan Skorpik: 3-3-0-0, 0.804 SV%, 5.31 GAA

Probable Starting Lineups
(based on Semifinals lines)


Adam Fantilli - Sean Farrell - Josh Doan
Erik Middendorf - Matthew Coronato - Mackie Samoskevich
Jack Harvey - Adam Robbins - Jackson Blake
Sam Lipkin - Joe Miller - Dawson Pasternak

Ryan Ufko / Ian Moore
David Ma / Jack Bar
Jack Babbage / Colton Huard
Luca Fantilli / Jake Livanavage

Simon Latkoczy
Jack Stark


Cameron Berg - Bradley Marek - Dylan Wendt
Daniil Gushchin - Jack Williams - Quinn Hutson
Cristophe Tellier - Tanner Kelly - Nick Portz
Thomas Sinclair - Own Mehlenbacher - Philip Tresca
Ben Strinden

Alex Gagne / Kyle Aucoin
Hank Kempf / Davis Pennington
Tyler Dunbar / Jacob Guevin
John Larkin

Jan Skorpik
Nathan Reid

Western Conference Matchup: (3) Sioux City Musketeers vs. (4) Fargo Force

Game 1 – Friday, May 7 at Tyson Events Center (7:05 p.m. CT)
Game 2 – Saturday, May 8 at Scheels Arena (6:05 p.m. CT)
Game 3 – Monday, May 10 at Tyson Events Center (7:05 p.m. CT)*

Sioux City (7-3-0-0 overall, 4-1-0-0 home, 3-2-0-0 road)
Fargo (3-7-0-0 overall, 2-3-0-0 home, 1-4-0-0 road)

When We Last Met:

  • The lone Clark Cup Playoffs matchup between Sioux City and Fargo dates back to 2012 when Fargo won the opening round matchup 2-0 with 2-1 and 5-1 wins with both games played at Scheels Arena.

What to Watch For:

  • Turn the Tides: The Sioux City Musketeers won seven of the 10 regular season meetings between the teams, including a pair of games in the final weekend of the regular season. The Fargo Force will have to stop the momentum the Musketeers have had in the head-to-head matchups this season to move on to the Clark Cup Final.
  • Offense Need Not Apply: The netminders in this series are set to square off after great regular seasons and stellar Semifinals appearances. New Jersey Devils prospect Akira Schmid (Sioux City) has a 0.50 goals against average and a 0.982 save percentage this postseason, including the lone shutuout of the Clark Cup Playoffs. His counterpart, Brennan Boynton, is 2-1-0-0 with a 2.98 goals against average and 0.904 save percentage this postseason.
  • Good to Be Home: Both the Musketeers and Force will host a home game for the first time this postseason after both winning their games on the road in the Conference Semifinals. In the regular season, Sioux City and Fargo ranked 6th and 7th, respectively, in home records. The Musketeers were 16-10-0-0 while the Force were 16-11-0-0.
  • Comeback Kids: The Fargo Force trailed a combined six times in their two wins in the Semifinals but answered back each time and only played with the lead twice in the series with all three games being decided by one goal. Fargo is now 9-6-3-0 this season in one-goal games while the Musketeers are 10-10-1-0. While the Musketeers scored first in both of their Seimfinals matchups, the Force have proven this postseason that they can come from behind to win.
  • The Three Musketeers: Sioux City’s second line in the Conference Semifinals consisted of Chase Bradley, Justin Hryckowian and Brian Carrabes, who have combined for 20 points (9-11-20) in the last four head-to-head meetings between Sioux City and Fargo. Hryckowian has multiple points in each of the last four meetings while Bradley has multiple points in the last three.

Players to Watch:

Sioux City: Akira Schmid

  • To say Akira Schmid was unbeatable in the Conference Semifinals would be nearly correct. The New Jersey Devils prospect (2018, Round 5, #136 overall) only allowed one goal on 55 Omaha Lancers shots he faced. Schmid leads playoff netminders with a 0.50 goals against average and 0.982 save percentage after leading the league in both categories (2.01 / 0.921) during the regular season.

Fargo: Brennan Boynton

  • Brennan Boynton willed his team to the Conference Finals, leading the Force to a pair of comeback wins over the top-seeded Tri-City Storm. The University of Minnesota commit ranked third in goals against average (2.43) and fourth in save percentage (0.901) during the regular season and currently holds a 4.12 goals against average and 0.904 save percentage with 85 saves in the postseason.

NHL Draft Picks:

  • Aaron Huglen, FGO (Buffalo Sabres, 2019, Round 4, #102 overall)
  • Ethan Edwards, SC (New Jersey Devils, 2020, Round 4, #120 overall)
  • Matteo Costantini, SC (Buffalo Sabres, 2020, Round 5, #131 overall)
  • Akira Schmid, SC (New Jersey Devils, 2018, Round 5, #136 overall)
  • John Fusco, SC (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2020, Round 7, #189 overall)
  • Chase Bradley, SC (Detroit Red Wings, 2020, Round 7, #203 overall)
  • Austin Wong, FGO (Winnipeg Jets, 2018, Round 7, #215 overall)

Top Head-to-Head Scorers:

  • Sioux City Musketeers
    • Chase Bradley: 7-6-13 (10 games)
    • Justin Hryckowian: 4-6-10 (7 games)
    • Brian Carrabes: 4-6-10 (10 games)
  • Fargo Force
    • Bear Hughes: 3-3-6 (8 games)
    • Aaron Huglen: 1-5-6 (9 games)
    • Tristan Broz: 3-3-6 (10 games)
    • Jeremy Davidson: 1-5-6 (10 games)

Goaltenders Head-to-Head:

  • Sioux City Musketeers
    • Akira Schmid: 6-2-0-0, 0.916 SV%, 2.39 GAA
    • Alex Tracy: 1-1-0-0, 0.918 SV%, 2.52 GAA
  • Fargo Force
    • Brennan Boynton: 3-5-0-0, 0.890 SV%, 2.70 GAA (10 appearances)
    • Andrew Miller: 0-2-0-0, 0.813 SV%, 4.50 GAA

Probable Starting Lineups
(based on Semifinals lines)


Brenden Olson - Joel Maatta - Bennett Schimek
Chase Bradley - Justin Hryckowian - Brian Carrabes
Tabor Heaslip - Matteo Costantini - Carter Loney
Ben Steeves - Kirklan Irey - Ben Doran
Jackson Nieuwendyk

Gabe Blanchard / Ethan Edwards
Christian Jimenez / Shai Buium
Griffin Ludtke / Daniel Laatsch
Mikey Adamson

Akira Schmid
Alex Tracy


Tristan Broz - Aaron Huglen - Cody Monds
Jeremy Davidson - Bear Hughes - Matthew Crasa
Jake Braccini - Mason Salquist - Austin Wong
Ryan Richardson - Kyle Smolen - Tyler Rollwagen
Grant Slukynsky - Casey McDonald

Jack Peart / Ryan Siedem
Nick Strom / Owen Gallatin
Tucker Hodgson / Trevor Griebel
Michael Suda

Brennan Boynton
Andrew Miller

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the 2020-21 season will be the USHL's 19th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league. The USHL had 51 players selected at the 2020 NHL Draft, marking the third-straight season with 50-or-more USHL players selected in the Draft. More than 800 league alumni are currently on NCAA Division I rosters, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.

Tag(s): Top Story