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Dubuque, Sioux Falls charge into USHL Clark Cup playoffs

04/18/2013, 2:00pm MDT
By Tom Robinson

The Dubuque Fighting Saints and Sioux Falls Stampede each finished with 45 wins in 64 games while winning United States Hockey League divisional titles.
Dubuque won the Anderson Cup as the USHL’s top regular-season team because it had fewer regulation losses. The Eastern Conference champion Fighting Saints went 45-11-8 in their third season.Sioux Falls won the Western Conference with a 45-17-2 record.
The Fargo Force, Waterloo Black Hawks and Lincoln Stars — all Western Conference members — were packed together with the league’s next three records, finishing at 83, 82 and 81 points, respectively, in the standings to make the playoffs.
The Green Bay Gamblers, Youngstown Phantoms and Muskegon Lumberjacks were the other Eastern Conference qualifiers.
The Waterloo combination of Taylor Cammarata, Justin Kloos and Zach Stepan finished 1-2-3 in the USHL in scoring. Cammarata led in goals (38) and points (93). Kloos led in assists with 58.
Charlie Lindgren racked up a league-high 35 wins while helping Sioux Falls to its division title.Arthur Brey of Dubuque led with a 2.22 goals-against average.Muskegon’s Kevin Lindskoug led in shutouts (8) and save percentage (.923).
CLARK CUP: The USHL moved right into its playoffs, and Lincoln is giving Sioux Falls a tough time in a Western Conference semifinal.Sioux Falls needed Tony Calderone’s second goal of the game, 1:21 into overtime, Tuesday to pull out a 3-2 victory.
However, the Stars evened their best-of-five series on Wednesday when Michael Bitzer made 43 saves, Will Suter scored the first two goals and the Stars killed six Stampede power plays.
Dubuque beat Muskegon, Green Bay topped Youngstown and Fargo downed Waterloo in the other series openers.
ROBERTSON CUP: While six other division semifinals were just getting started Friday night, the defending Robertson Cup champion Texas Tornado was completing a three-game sweep and moving into the South Division finals of the North American Hockey League’s playoffs.
The Tornado brought an emphatic conclusion to the series with an 8-1 romp over the Topeka RoadRunners.
Hunter Leisner allowed just one goal in each game of the series.Scott Conway had a hat trick in the clincher.
The Bismarck Bobcats, Jamestown Ironmen and Soo Eagles each took 2-0 series leads.
Seth Blair had five goals in two games for Bismarck against the Brookings Blizzard in the Central Division.Jamestown is up on the Kalamazoo K-Wings in the North.Soo shook off a goal 14 seconds into Game 2 during a 4-1 win over the Port Huron Fighting Saints in the other North series.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Tyler Marble of the NAHL’s Soo Eagles has committed to Colorado College.Marble, a 21-year-old from Howell, Mich., had five shutouts while winning 30 regular-season games this season.
Austin Bruins forward C.J. Smith has committed to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.Smith, 18, from Richfield, Minn., led the NAHL Central Division champion Bruins with 30 goals.
AWHL STARS: The Helena Bighorns had five of the nine players selected as first-team American West Hockey League all-stars.Goalie Jett Salinas, defensemen Brandon Rumble and Logan Hawgood and forwards Christian Axelsson and Ben Henne represented the Bighorns.
The rest of the first team featured Gillette Wild forwards Taylor Motsinger and Tyler Cavan, Great Falls American defenseman Bill Grillo and Missoula Maulers defenseman Donovan Mattfeldt.
The second team was made up of defenseman Tanner Fricke and forwards Michael Berens and George Splichal from the Yellowstone Quake; goalie Mckinlee Baum and forward Zach Paisley from the Missoula Maulers; defenseman Moco Willis from Gillette; defenseman Nick Rizzo from the Billings Bulls; and defenseman John Petersson from Helena.
QUICK HIT: Alex Tuch and Dylan Larkin scored six seconds apart late in the second period of the regular season finale to help Team USA edge the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3-2 in a shootout in USHL play.
The effort came within one second of a USHL record for fastest goals by teammates.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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A follow-up to Ian Walsh's NHL career-path article (see Stripes - February 2015)

For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials. 

USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?

Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.  

USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season? 

Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that. 

The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.

USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?

Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.

USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official? 

Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.

USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career? 

Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.

USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?  

Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.

USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?

Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.

USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career? 

Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.

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