CHICAGO, Ill. – The 2021 Clark Cup Final will head to Fargo, N.D. tied 1-1 after the opening weekend of play thanks to a 4-1 Chicago Steel win Saturday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
Despite a game full of scoring chances for each side, the bulk of the scoring came in the first 12 minutes of the night’s action. After being held off the scoreboard in Game 1, the Steel opened Game 2 with their first goal of the Clark Cup Final just 1:01 into action. The tally came as the fifth of the Playoffs from Steel forward Adam Fantilli. The 16-year-old, first year USHL skater found the top corner of the Fargo net with a heavy wrist shot.
The goal ended a lengthy shutout streak for Force goalie Andrew Miller, who finished with the second-longest shutout streak in USHL Tier I Playoff history at 149:41, dating back to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Richard Bachman (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) holds the longest Playoff shutout streak of 161:30, set during the 2007 Clark Cup Playoffs.
Fargo leveled the score 8:32 into the opening frame as forward Austin Wong recorded his second goal of the postseason. The powerplay tally from the Winnipeg Jets prospect (2018, Round 7, #215) was the first for either team after a combined 0-for-9 in the Final to that point. The Force nearly leveled the score earlier, on their first powerplay opportunity of the night, but a shot from forward Matthew Crasa rang off the iron behind Steel netminder Simon Latkoczy.
What would hold nearly 50 minutes of play as the game-winning goal came 11:53 into the first as Chicago forward Adam Robbins potted his first of the postseason, a net-front redirection of a shot from defenseman Colton Huard.
The remainder of the game belonged to Miller and Latkoczy, who traded remarkable saves on either side of the ice. Chicago sealed the victory with empty net goals from Matt Coronato and Erik Middendorf in the final minute of the game.
In Clark Cup Final, Tier I history, the winner of Game 2 in a split of the first two games is 6-4, including Chicago’s lone Clark Cup Championship in 2017 when the team won Games 2, 3, and 5. However, Fargo’s lone Clark Cup Championship, in 2018, came after the team won Game 1 and lost Game 2 before winning both Games 3 and 4. The top seed, after a 1-1 start to the Clark Cup Final, is 6-4 with five of the series going four games and five of the series going to a pivotal Game 5.
The teams will meet in Fargo for Game 3 of the Clark Cup Final Friday, May 21 at Scheels Arena in another 7:05 p.m. CT puck drop.
CLARK CUP FINAL SCHEDULE
Game 1: Fargo wins 3-0 (Fargo leads series 1-0)
Game 2: Chicago wins 4-1 (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Friday, May 21 @ 7:05 p.m. CT (Scheels Arena)
Game 4: Saturday, May 22 @ 6:05 p.m. CT (Scheels Arena)
Game 5: Tuesday, May 25 @ 7:05 p.m. CT (Fox Valley Ice Arena) *
* if necessary
For more Clark Cup Playoff information, please visit the Playoff Hub at ushl.com and visit the Chicago Steel and Fargo Force websites for more information and tickets to remaining Clark Cup Final games.
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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