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Fargo, Dubuque prepare to face off in Clark Cup Finals

05/09/2013, 2:00pm EDT
By Tom Robinson

Brendan Harms and Kenny Gillespie scored two goals each Wednesday night to lift the Fargo Force over the Sioux Falls Stampede 7-4, setting up the Clark Cup Finals against the regular-season champion Dubuque Fighting Saints.
 
Harms also had an assist while Gillespie had the game-winner to lead Fargo to victory in the fifth and deciding game of the Western Conference finals.
 
Fargo will head to Dubuque to open the Clark Cup Final on Friday against the Eastern Conference champions. The best-of-five series will determine the United States Hockey League’s playoff champion and the USA Hockey Tier I Junior National Championship.
 
Dubuque is home Friday at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday at 7:05 p.m. The series moves to Fargo on May 17 for a 7:35 p.m. game. If Game 4 is necessary, it will be at 7:05 p.m. on May 18 in Fargo. A potential decisive game in the best-of-five series would be May 21 in Dubuque at 7:05 p.m.
 
Fargo outshot Sioux Falls 46-26 Wednesday. A 17-4 advantage in the second period led to three goals for a 4-2 lead.
 
Sioux Falls rallied to force a tie on goals by Zeb Knutson and Ryan Siiro less than a minute apart. Gillespie then scored the game-winner at 9:30. Brendan Harms assisted on an Alex Iafallo goal at 11:19 and added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
 
Sioux Falls forced a Game 5 when Dennis Kravchenko scored two goals Sunday in a 5-3 victory.
 
Fargo had assumed a 2-1 series lead May 2 when Cam Johnson made 31 saves, including 16 in the third period, to make Dave Gust’s goal 3:47 stand up for a 1-0 victory.
 
The series win advanced Fargo to face Dubuque, which shut out the Youngstown Phantoms 4-0 in Sunday’s fifth and deciding game. Dubuque’s Arthur Brey made 23 saves and Evan Janssen scored twice in the game.
 
Dubuque, which dropped the third and fourth games of the Eastern Conference finals in Youngstown, is 5-0 at home in the playoffs.
 
ROBERTSON CUP: Brian Williams broke a tie at 7:45 of the third period Tuesday night to lead the Wenatchee Wild past the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 3-1, in the deciding game of the best-of-five Robertson Cup West Division Final.
 
The Wenatchee win finalized the field for the Robertson Cup National Championship Tournament, which begins Friday in Frisco, Texas. The tournament determines the North American Hockey League playoff champion and the USA Hockey Tier II Junior National Championship.
 
Wenatchee will join the South Division champion Amarillo Bulls, the Central Division champion Bismarck Bobcats and North Division champion Jamestown Ironmen for round-robin competition Friday through Sunday to determine the two teams for Monday’s finals. Amarillo is the top seed.
 
Wenatchee’s Robert Nichols made 17 saves in Game 5. Jono Davis, who also scored in Game 5, had two goals and Nichols made 26 saves in Game 3 Friday to give Wenatchee the series lead with a 3-1 victory.
 
Fairbanks extended the series with a 3-2 win Saturday.
 
Bismarck finished off the Austin Bruins with a pair of one-goal victories for a 3-1 series win. The Bobcats won 3-2 Friday and 4-3 Saturday to take their fifth straight Central Division title. Bismarck’s Aaron Nelson stopped 36 of 37 shots in the clinching win over the division’s regular-season champions. The Bobcats overcame a 1-0 deficit Saturday after rallying from 2-0 down Friday.
 
Jamestown, a last-place team a year ago, completed a three-game sweep of the Soo Eagles with a 5-2 win May 2. Joey Ballmer made 24 saves in the win.
 
USHL DRAFT: The Des Moines Buccaneers picked Tom Novak, a forward from River Falls, Wis. who is playing at St. Thomas Academy in Minnesota, with the first pick in Tuesday’s USHL draft. The Buccaneers made their pick after the two teams ahead of them each signed tenders rather than use their picks. Novak had 28 goals and 29 assists in 31 games.
 
At the end of the draft, the Chicago Steel made a symbolic pick in choosing Jack Jablonski, a Minnesota high school player who was paralyzed during a hockey game for Benilde-St. Margaret’s in a Dec. 30, 2011 game.
 
Jablonski had sent an open Tweet Monday reminding USHL teams he was eligible for this year’s draft, and the Steel took him up on it.
 
“Best night ever. #steel,” he Tweeted after the pick.
 
TOP ROOKIES: The Texas Tornado and Aberdeen Wings each had a player selected to both the first team and second team on the NAHL’s All-Rookie Team.
 
Forwards Brandon Hawkins of Texas and Peter Krieger of Aberdeen were joined on the first team by Austin forward Jay Dickman, Bismarck defenseman Nate Repensky, Soo defenseman Alex Robert and Wichita Falls Wildcats goalie Evan Cowley.
 
The Kenai River Brown Bears placed forward Matt Seidel and defenseman Jake Bushey on the second team. Texas forward Scott Conway and Aberdeen defenseman Jake Horton were also named, along with Topeka RoadRunners forward Tyler Andrew and Kalamazoo Junior K-Wings goalie Marcus Due-Boje.
 
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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