Photo by Hickling Images
Bartek Bison broke a 2-2 tie in the third period, and University of Michigan commit Strauss Mann made 38 saves as the Fargo Force defeated the Youngstown Phantoms 3-2 in Game 3 of the 2018 Clark Cup Final, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Grant Hebert registered the primary assist on all three Force goals.
Late in the first period, Fargo right wing Griffin Loughran received a pass in the slot from linemate Hebert and fired a shot over Youngstown goaltender Ivan Prosvetov’s glove at 13:40 to give his team a 1-0 lead. Loughran, a Northern Michigan commit, has now scored a goal in six consecutive Clark Cup Playoffs games. Fargo took the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Chase Gresock tied the game 1:04 into the second period after intercepting a clearing attempt along the left wall and firing a short-side shot past Mann’s blocker. The goal was Gresock’s USHL-leading eighth Clark Cup Playoffs goal, seven of which have been scored on home ice.
The two teams exchanged goals later in the middle frame, quickly returning the game to a tie after Youngstown held a 2-1 lead for all of six seconds. At the 13:39 mark, Phantoms right wing Nicholas Cardelli jammed in a rebound of an Eric Esposito shot for a power play goal. Then, on the ensuing faceoff, Force defenseman Evan Bell fired the puck into the offensive zone from center ice. The puck ricocheted off a stanchion on the left wing and into the net past a surprised Prosvetov. The game was tied at two through 40 minutes of play.
Bison’s game-winning tally came at the 13:07 mark of the third period. Loughran connected a pass behind the goal line to Hebert, who then connected the puck to Bison in the low slot. Bison’s quick release beat Prosvetov past the blocker.
Mann stopped all 18 shots faced from the Phantoms in the third period. The Force now have the opportunity to win the Clark Cup in Game 4 on Saturday night at Covelli Centre, while the Phantoms will try to force a series-deciding Game 5 Wednesday night back at Scheels Arena. The puck drop for Game 4 is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.