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Friday Feature: 2021 Clark Cup Final Primer

05/14/2021, 8:30am CDT
By Brent Meske

Check Up on All the Information You Need Before the Clark Cup Final Begins Tonight

(1) Chicago Steel vs. (4) Fargo Force

Schedule:

Game 1 – Friday, May 14 at Fox Valley Ice Arena (7:05 p.m. CT)
Game 2 – Saturday, May 15 at Fox Valley Ice Arena (7:05 p.m. CT)
Game 3 – Friday, May 21 at Scheels Arena (6:05 p.m. CT)
Game 4 – Saturday, May 22 at Scheels Arena (7:05 p.m. CT) *
Game 5 – Tuesday, May 25 at Fox Valley Ice Arena (7:05 p.m. CT) *

Records:

Chicago (38-11-3-2 overall, 4-0-0-0 playoffs, 3-0-0-0 playoffs home, 1-0-0-0 playoffs road)
Fargo (30-21-3-0 overall, 4-1-0-0 playoffs, 1-0-0-0 playoffs home, 3-1-0-0 playoffs road)

When We Last Met:

  • The Chicago Steel and Fargo Force have never met in the Clark Cup Playoffs. Chicago holds a slight lead overall advantage in the head-to-head matchup with a 14-9-2-1 (7-4-0-1 home, 7-5-1-0 road) record in 26 head-to-head games dating back to the 2008-09 season. Fargo is 12-13-1-0 (7-7-0-0 home, 5-6-1-0 road) against Chicago. The Steel have won the last four matchups and four of the last six games at Fox Valley Ice Arena.

What to Watch For:

  • On a Heater: The Chicago Steel come into the Clark Cup Final having won their last 12 games and are outscoring opponents 16-9 in four playoff games.
  • Top-End Scoring: All 16 of Chicago’s goals this postseason have come from seven players who combined for 181 goals in the regular season, which was 68.3 percent of the Steel’s league-leading 265 goals this season. The seven Steel goal scorers this season finished 1st-7th in Chicago’s regular season goal scoring, including leading scorer Matthew Coronato (48).
  • Offensive Records in Sight: Clark Cup Final history has seen two hat tricks, three four-point games and 10 three-assist games. During the regular season, the teams combined for seven hat tricks (all Steel), 20 four-point games (18 Steel, 2 Force) and 18 three-assist games (16 Steel, 2 Force).
  • Special Teams: Chicago finished the regular season with a league-best 28.3 percent on the powerplay while Fargo was 11th with a 17.7 percent. Chicago and Fargo were 6th and 8th on the penalty kill in the regular season (79.5 percent and 78.5 percent). The Steel lead the Force in both categories in the postseason as well with a 30.8 percent powerplay and 71.4 percent penalty kill, which are 3rd and 6th in each category, respectively, while Fargo is 20.0 percent with the man-advantage and 66.7 percent while short a man (4th and 7th in each category).
  • Streaking Scorers: Fargo’s Tristan Broz (5 games, 3-6-9) as well as Chicago’s Matthew Coronato (4 games, 6-3-9) and Mackie Samoskevich (4 games, 1-7-8) have registered at least one point in all of their team’s playoff games. The Force have four additional skaters on active scoring streaks including Aaron Huglen (4 games, 2-4-6), Jacob Braccini (3 games, 3-2-5), Jeremy Davidson (3 games, 2-1-3) and Jack Peart (2 games, 0-2-2) while the Steel have three additional skaters including Ryan Ufko (3 games, 1-5-6), Adam Fantilli (3 games, 4-0-4) and Sean Farrell (3 games, 1-3-4).

Players to Watch:

Chicago: Offensive Firepower

  • The Steel had a record-setting regular season offensively with a league-leading 264 goals in 54 games (4.89 goals per game) and are currently averaging a league-best 4.00 goals per game  in the postseason. Chicago’s big four of Sean Farrell, Matthew Coronato, Josh Doan, and Erik Middendorf finished in the top-four scoring spots, respectively, in the league with a combined 324 points (140-184-324), or a combined 6.11 points per game. Of the 54 Steel games this season, only once did a team hold all four skaters off the scoresheet (March 12, 2021).

Fargo: Goaltending Prowess

  • Brennan Boynton finished third and fourth in regular season goals against average and save percentage with a 2.43 and 0.901, respectively. In the postseason, the University of Minnesota commit has a 2.63 goals against average and 0.916 save percentage. Andrew Miller has stepped in for a pair of games in playoffs and leads all USHL netminders with a 0.63 goals against average and 0.981 save percentage. The Minnesota State University commit has allowed only one shot on 53 attempts in the Clark Cup Playoffs. 

NHL Draft Picks:

  • Ian Moore, CHI (Anaheim Ducks, 2020, Round 3, #67 overall)
  • Aaron Huglen, FGO (Buffalo Sabres, 2019, Round 4, #102)
  • Sean Farrell, CHI (Montreal Canadiens, 2020, Round 4, #124 overall)
  • Joe Miller, CHI (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2020, Round 6, #180 overall)
  • Austin Wong, FGO (Winnipeg Jets, 2018, Round 7, #215)

NHL Draft Prospects:

  • Matthew Coronato, CHI (A-rated)
  • Mackie Samoskevich, CHI (A-rated)
  • Jack Bar, CHI (B-rated)
  • Tristan Broz, FGO (B-rated)
  • Ryan Ufko, CHI (B-rated)
  • Jackson Blake, CHI (C-rated)
  • Josh Doan, CHI (C-rated)
  • Luca Fantilli, CHI (C-rated)
  • Sam Lipkin, CHI (C-rated)
  • Charlie Lurie, FGO (C-rated)
  • Jack Peart, FGO (C-rated)

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.

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