Frank DiChiara scored 8:17 into overtime Friday night to lift the Dubuque Fighting Saints to a 3-2 overtime victory over the host Fargo Force and a three-game sweep of their Clark Cup Final series.
The Clark Cup determines the United States Hockey League postseason and USA Hockey Tier I Junior National titles.
The Fighting Saints won the first two games at home and went to North Dakota looking for a sweep.
Dubuque was ready to celebrate earlier in the game until Fargo pulled goalie Cameron Johnson for an extra attacker and got a goal from Alex Iafallo with 29 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
However, DiChiara converted a pass from Shane Sooth to end what had been an evenly played overtime.
Fargo scored first in the game on a power-play goal by Austin Ortega in the first period.
Brandon Carlson’s first USHL playoff goal tied the game for Dubuque in the second period. Then Sooth put the Fighting Saints in front with an unassisted, power-play goal at 8:05 of the third.
Dubuque’s Arthur Brey made 29 saves while getting his ninth win of the postseason. Johnson had 40 saves for Fargo.
Dubuque’s Mike Szmatula was named Clark Cup Most Valuable Player. Szmatula had three goals in the final and seven goals and five assists total in the playoffs.
The Fighting Saints won two of the last three titles under head coach Jim Montgomery, who is leaving the team to take over as head coach at the University of Denver.
COACHING NEWS: Brett Larson is leaving his position as head coach of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers to become associate head coach at Ohio State University. After winning just six of their first 37 games, the Musketeers closed out the season with a 17-9-1 run.
The USHL’s Lincoln Starts have signed head coach and general manager Chad Johnson to a two-year contract extension through the 2014-15 season. Johnson is 110-62-12 coaching the team in the last three regular seasons.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Two USHL defensemen recently announced their college commitments.
Dubuque’s Carlson is headed to the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The 20-year-old from Ladera Ranch, Calif. was plus-10 with four goals and nine assists in 55 regular season games.
Cutler Martin of the Tri-City storm is headed to the University of Michigan, beginning in the fall of 2014. Martin, an 18-year-old from East Lansing, Mich., had four goals and 12 assists in 59 games.
ALL-NAHL: The North American Hockey League announced its All-NAHL Team and its All-Division teams, which were determined by voting by the league’s 24 head coaches.
The Austin Bruins placed forward Brandon Wahlin and Cody Dixon on the All-NAHL team while the Soo Eagles were represented by Jared VanWormer and goalie Tyler Marble. Topeka RoadRunners forward Kyle Sharkey and Wenatchee Wild defenseman Josh Hartley also made the team.
Wahlin and Dixon were on the Central Division team, along with Bismarck Bobcats forward Adam Knochenmus and goalie Aaron Nelson, Coulee Region Chill forward Mac Jensen and Brookings Blizzard defenseman Drew Brevig.
VanWormer and Marble were on the North Division team with Kalamazoo Junior K-Wings forward Robbie Payne and defenseman Brett Beauvais, Springfield Junior Blues forward Brett Skibba and Jamestown Ironmen defenseman Dylan Zink.
The Amarillo Bulls and Topeka each had two players on the South Division team. Goalie Paul Berrafato and defenseman John Rey represented Amarillo. Sharkey and Sean Gaffney gave Topeka two of the three forwards. Corpus Christi IceRays forward Rudy Sulmonte and Texas Tornado defenseman Nick Neville completed the team.
Wenatchee had half the West Division team — Hartley, forward Jono Davis and goalie Robert Nichols. The rest of the team was Fairbanks Ice Dogs forward Garret Clemment and defenseman Doug Rose, along with Kenai River Brown Bears forward Alex Jackstadt.
FRANCHISE MOVES: After five seasons in Wenatchee, the Wild is relocating to Hidalgo, Texas, where the team will be known as the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees beginning with the 2013-14 season.
“We are excited about the move to the Rio Grande Valley and our mission to field a championship-caliber team every season remains the same,” team president Bill Stewart said, according to a story on the league website.
Stewart said he expects head coach Bliss Littler and his staff to make the move to Texas.
The NAHL also announced the addition of a Cloquet, Minn.-based team, the Minnesota Wilderness, for next season. The team is taking over and relocating the dormant St. Louis Bandits franchise.
The Wilderness has been competing in the Superior International Junior Hockey League, a Canadian-based Tier II Junior League in which it won the last three titles.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): Junior Notebooks