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USHL Clark Cup Playoffs Preview & Round 1 Schedules

2017 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs, Round 1
2017 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs, Round 1

The 2017 United States Hockey League postseason begins Friday. Who stands the best chance of hoisting the USHL Clark Cup and declare themselves champion?

Congratulations to the the eight USHL teams that have battled all season to qualify for the the USHL postseason. The Chicago Steel, Des Moines Buccaneers, Dubuque Fighting Saints, Fargo Force, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Sioux City Musketeers, Waterloo Black Hawks and Youngstown Phantoms all begin Round 1 play this Friday (April 14, 2017) night.

The complete Round 1 USHL Clark Cup Playoff game schedule is posted below.


CHICAGO STEEL:
The Chicago Steal (38-17-2-3) enter the 2017 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs as the strongest team according to our Townsquare Media Waterloo Power Rankings (below). They earned the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and they finished the regular season with the third best regular season record. The Steel have the league’s best Penalty Kill, Away Record, and the second least penalized team after 60 games. The knock on Chicago is that they limped into the playoffs. They ranked tenth (out of 17 teams) in their last ten games of the regular season.

KEY PLAYERS: Reggie Lutz (team’s highest point scorer). Jack Badini (league’s 6th highest goal scorer).


SIOUX CITY MUSKETEERS:
The Sioux City Musketeers (40-13-5-2) won the Anderson Cup, awarded to the team with the best regular season record. Sioux City secured the #1 seed in the Western Conference. The Musketeers will be hard to beat as they hold the best home record and second best away record during the 2016/17 season. The Steel allowed the fewest goals during the regular season. A solid Penalty Kill (Ranked 4th at 87.3%) doesn’t hurt their chances either. They sit as the #2 team on our Townsquare Media Waterloo Power Rankings. Their Power Play (ranked #14 at 14.1%) stopped them from earning the top spot.

KEY PLAYERS: Matiss Kivlenieks (USHL’s best goalie save percentage). Eeli Tolvanen (league’s 3rd best goal scorer & averaged 1.04 points/game).


FARGO FORCE:
The Fargo Force (36-19-4-1) might be the sleeper in this year’s playoffs. They sit as the #3 team on the Townsquare Media Waterloo Power Rankings. Yes we understand that they are the #3 seed in the West, and they only had the sixth best win/loss record during the regular season. That being said, remember that they will play a majority of their games on the road. The Force had the third best Away Record during the regular season (18-9-3-0). The key to their success on the road has been their Special Teams efforts. Fargo’s Penalty Kill was ranked second (87.9%) and their Power Play ranked fourth (19.3%) during the regular season. Their biggest blemish was the seventh best Home Record (ranked 7th overall, 18-10-1-1).

KEY PLAYERS: Jack Adams (team’s top goal scorer & league’s most power play goals).  Blake Lizotte (league’s second highest scorer & averaged 1.16 points/game). Hank Crone (league’s 4th highest scorer & averaged 1.11 points/game).


WATERLOO BLACK HAWKS:
The Waterloo Black Hawks (40-16-2-2) entered the 2017 Clark Cup Playoffs as the hottest team in the USHL. Despite the #2 seed in the West, they sit fourth overall on our Power Rankings. This season marked only the second season that the franchise has achieved 40 wins in a single season. They had the best win/loss record during the last 10 games of the regular season. Waterloo had the best home record during the regular season (24-4-1-1), and the fourth best away record (19-9-3-1). The Black Hawks scored the most goals during the regular season, and they did a great job capitalizing on opponent penalties (Power Play ranked #3 overall at 21.2%). They need to improve on their Penalty Kill (ranked #11 overall at 82.7%) if they want to compete for the championship.

KEY PLAYERS: Kevin Charyszyn (league’s 4th best goal scorer). Alex Limoges (league’s 6th best in assists). Nick Swaney (league’s 8th best goal scorer & averaged 1.09 points/game). Robbie Beydoun (league’s third best goals against average at 2.22).


DUBUQUE FIGHTING SAINTS:
The fifth ranked team on the Townsquare Media Waterloo Power Rankings list is the Dubuque Fighting Saints. This is another strong road team (ranked 2nd overall, 18-9-2-1). The Fighting Saints scored the second most goals by any team during the regular season, and Dubuque has the league’s second best Power Play during they regular season (21.6%) and the best PP squad while on the road (23.4%). Dubuque was ranked seventh overall when on the Penalty Kill (85.7%), and it will be tested as they were the third most penalized team during the 60 game regular season.

KEY PLAYERS: Colin Theisen (team’s top goal scorer & second overall in the league). Zach Solow (USHL’s highest scorer & averaged 1.23 points/game). Hank Crone (averaged 1.11 points/game).


DES MOINES BUCCANEERS:
The Des Moines Buccaneers enter the USHL Clark Cup Playoffs as the fourth seed in the Western Conference and the sixth team overall on the Townsquare Media Waterloo Power Rankings. Des Moines will need to improve on their Power Play (ranked #9 overall at 16.0%) if they want to advance to the next round.

KEY PLAYERS: David Keefer (team’s highest goal scorer and point leader). Mario Ferraro (league’s third best rookie point scorer). Mario Ferraro (team’s assist leader).


MUSKEGON LUMBERJACKS:
The Eastern Conference’s third seed ended up being the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Muskegon will need to use their solid Power Play (ranked #5 overall at 17.2%) to maximize their chances to advance to Round 2. The Lumberjacks ended the regular season as the fourth best team in the USHL (ranked fourth best win/loss record during the regular season).

KEY PLAYERS: Andrei Svechnikov (league’s 5th highest goal scorer & averaged 1.23 points/game). Austin Albrecht (team’s assist leader).


YOUNGSTOWN PHANTOMS:
The Youngstown Phantoms only allowed 135 goals, second only to the Anderson Cup winning Sioux City Musketeers. Limiting goal chances will be the key for the Lumberjacks if they want to battle for the Clark Cup. They will also need to show more discipline as they were the league’s second most penalized team. They do have a solid Penalty Kill squad (ranked #3 overall at 87.6%), but it’s hard to score goals while on the PK.

KEY PLAYERS: Ivan Kulbakov (league’s second best goalie with goals against average at 1.93). Austin Pooley (team’s top goal scorer). Nicolas Werbik (team’s highest point scorer).


USHL CLARK CUP PLAYOFFS: Round 1 Game Schedule

  • Western Conference Semifinal Game Schedules:
    • #1 Sioux City Musketeers vs. #4 Des Moines Buccaneers
      • Game 1: Friday, 4/14/17 at 7:05 pm at Tyson Events Center
      • Game 2: Sunday, 4/16/17 at 5:05 pm at Tyson Events Center
      • Game 3: Friday, 4/21/17 at 7:05 pm at Buccaneer Arena
      • Game 4 (if necessary): Saturday, 4/22/17 at 7:05 pm at Buccaneer Arena
      • Game 5 (if necessary): Tuesday, 4/25/17 at 7:05 pm at Tyson Events Center
    • #2 Waterloo Black Hawks vs. #3 Fargo Force
      • Game 1: Friday, 4/14/17 at 7:05 pm at Young Arena
      • Game 2: Saturday, 4/15/17 at 7:05 pm at Young Arena
      • Game 3: Tuesday, 4/18/17 at 7:05 pm at Scheels Arena
      • Game 4 (if necessary): Wednesday, 4/19/17 at 7:05 pm at Scheels Arena
      • Game 5 (if necessary): Saturday, 4/22/17 at 7:05 pm at Young Arena
  • Eastern Conference Semifinal Game Schedules:
    • #1 Chicago Steel vs. #4 Youngstown Phantoms
      • Game 1: Friday, 4/14/17 at 7:05 pm at Fox Valley Ice Arena
      • Game 2: Saturday, 4/15/17 at 7:05 pm at Fox Valley Ice Arena
      • Game 3: Friday, 4/21/17 at 7:05 pm at Covelli Centre
      • Game 4 (if necessary): Saturday, 4/22/17 at 7:05 pm at Covelli Centre
      • Game 5 (if necessary):Tuesday, 4/25/17 at 7:05 pm at Fox Valley Ice Arena
    • #2 Dubuque Fighting Saints vs. #3 Muskegon Lumberjacks
      • Game 1: Friday, 4/14/17 at 7:35 pm at Mystique Community Ice Center
      • Game 2: Saturday, 4/15/17 at 7:05 pm at Mystique Community Ice Center
    • Game 3: Thursday, 4/20/17 at 7:15 pm at L.C. Walker Arena
    • Game 4 (if necessary): Friday, 4/21/17 at 7:15 pm at L.C. Walker Arena
    • Game 5 (if necessary): Monday, 4/24/17 at 7:05 pm at Mystique Community Ice Center

TOWNSQUARE MEDIA USHL POWER RANKINGS:
Entering Round 1 of the 2017 Clark Cup Playoffs
A Perfect Score is 1.00

  TEAM SCORE OVERALL GF GA PP PK HOME AWAY PIM (Least) LAST 10
1 CHI 3.50 #3 (38-17-2-3) #3 (196) #3 (144) #8 (16.0) #1 (90.0%) #3 #1 #2 (748) #10
2 SC 4.00 #1 (40-13-5-2) #6 (179) #1 (125) #14 (14.1%) #4 (87.3%) #2 #4 #3 (787) #4
3 FAR 4.40 #6 (36-19-4-1) #4 (193) #5 (149) #4 (19.3%) #2 (87.9%) #7 #3 #4 (792) #6
4 WAT 4.50 #2 (40-16-2-2) #1 (210) #8 (161) #3 (21.2%) #11 (82.7%) #1 #8 #8 (891) #1
5 DUB 5.60 #4 (36-17-5-2) #2 (201) #10 (163) #2 (21.6%) #7 (85.7%) #6 #2 #15 (1038) #6
6 DM 6.30 #7 (36-20-1-3) #7 (177) #6 (154) #9 (16.0%) #6 (86.0%) #8 #5 #5 (797) #6
7 MUS 6.40 #5 (37-18-3-2) #5 (192) #7 (157) #5 (17.2%) #12 (82.2%) #4 #7 #13 (1021) #3
8 YOU 8.00 #8 (34-20-5-1) #12 (161) #2 (135) #11 (14.6%) #3 (87.6%) #9 #6 #16 (1147) #9

LEGEND: 
OVERALL=Regular Season Record, GF=Goals For, GA=Goals Against, PP=Power Play, PK=Pentaly Kill, HOME=Home Win/Loss Record, AWAY=Away Win/Loss Record, PIM=Penalty Minutes, LAST 10=Last 10 Games of the Regular Season.

Click Here For More USHL Clark Cup Playoff News & Results

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