The Sioux City Musketeers and Dubuque Fighting Saints finished off series victories against higher-seeded opponents Saturday, setting up the conference finals that make up the final four of the Clark Cup Playoffs.
The Clark Cup determines the United States Hockey League postseason champion and the USA Hockey Tier I junior national championship. The best-of-five conference finals begin Friday.
The USHL regular-season champion Waterloo Black Hawks have home-ice advantage on Sioux City in the Western Conference. The defending champion Indiana Ice is the top seed in the Eastern Conference, where it will face Dubuque.
Sioux City defeated the Omaha Lancers 4-2 Saturday to complete a 3-1 series victory in the best-of-five conference semifinals. The Musketeers scored four third-period goals to overcome a pair of deficits. Jake Montgomery scored the game-winner with 2:04 left and then added an empty-net goal.
Josh Elmes and Robby Darrar each scored twice when Dubuque downed the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 7-3 to complete its 3-1 series win. Dubuque took the series lead with a 1-0 win in Game 3. Kevin Reich made 27 saves and Robby Darrar scored a second-period goal.
Indiana also won its series, 3-1. The Ice shut out the host Green Bay Gamblers 1-0 Friday. Jason Pawlowski made 22 saves in his second straight shutout and Denis Smirnov scored the game-winner with less than seven minutes left.
The same combination — a goal by Smirnov and a shutout by Pawlowski — led to a 1-0 win in Game 3. Pawlowski only needed to make 12 saves for the shutout.
Waterloo was the only team to sweep its series in three games, finishing off the Sioux Falls Stampede with a 7-2 rout April 17 when Brandon Montour scored a goal and assisted on four others.
ROBERTSON CUP: Kevin Aldridge made 25 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs Monday night to lift the Fairbanks Ice Dogs to a 2-0 win over the Wenatchee Wild and a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five North American Hockey League Midwest Division final series.
The series is one of four still going in the Robertson Cup, which determines the NAHL postseason champion and USA Hockey Tier II junior national champion.
Fairbanks has won two straight after Wenatchee opened the series with a 4-0 win Friday.
The Topeka RoadRunners and Port Huron Fighting Saints each have 2-0 leads in division finals.
Topeka won the first two games from the South regular-season champion and defending Robertson Cup champion Amarillo Bulls. P.J. Bridges improved to 5-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in the playoffs.
Port Huron shut out the Michigan Warriors for the first two games, including triple overtime in Friday’s opener. Trevor Gorsuch has a .972 playoff save percentage after making 55 saves in Friday’s 1-0 triple-overtime win and 28 more Saturday. Colin Larkin scored Friday’s overtime goal and assisted on Saturday’s winner.
The Austin Bruins and Bismarck Bobcats are tied 1-1 in the Central after splitting overtime games in Austin.
METRO AWARDS: Brett Mecrones scored 83 points in 42 games to land the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League Most Valuable Player award. Other Metropolitan awards went to: Bailey More, Frederick Freeze, Rookie of the Year; Kyle Carducci, Hartford Junior Wolfpack, Goaltender of the Year; Taylor Hale, Boston Bandits, Defenseman of the Year; Ronnie Williams Hartford, Defensive Forward of the Year; Brad Nolan, Philadelphia Revolution, Offensive Defenseman of the Year; Nick Cambria, Boston Bandits, Lady Byng Award; and Scott Drevitch, Boston Bandits, Head Coach of the Year.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Tri-City Storm forward Jake Wahlin has committed to play at St. Cloud State University. The 17-year-old from St. Paul, Minn. joined the team after the high school hockey season and produced two goals and an assist in 10 USHL games.
Muskegon Lumberjacks team captain Cullen Hurley is headed to the University of Wisconsin. The 21-year-old forward from Eagan, Minn. had two goals and 10 assists in 55 USHL games in this, his second season with the team.
CHANGES AHEAD: Scott Meyer is moving from head coach/general manager to president/general manager of the NAHL’s Minnesota Magicians for next season. The Magicians will look for a new coach for their second season in the league.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Starting with the upcoming season, USA Hockey is launching a new online curriculum in our Officiating Education Program. In addition to the standard registration requirements, including application, open and closed book testing and attendance at a USA Hockey Officiating Seminar, every official must complete the online material prior to receiving their card and crest for 2014-15.
The online curriculum is designed to enhance educational experience with accurate and consistent officiating information. The online modules will be broken down into three categories. The first two requirements will include general and level-specific presentations. The third category will have elective courses from a variety of topics such as positioning, procedures, penalty criteria and the mental game. These electives will be level-specific and allow you to hone your officiating skills in areas you select.
The length of each presentation will vary depending on content and focus. The majority of the presentations will fall in the 5- to 10-minute range, followed by a short quiz reviewing the content. The entire online curriculum will take 3-5 hours to complete, depending on the level of the official. The in-person seminar each official will be required to attend will be abbreviated and designed to supplement the material presented in the online curriculum.
Instructions on accessing the online seminar will be sent to you upon receiving your USA Hockey application. The curriculum will be accessed through your USAHockey.com profile and can be completed at your leisure, meaning you can log out and log back in to pick up where you left off. Some presentations are designed to be viewed before attending the seminar as a means to improve the overall seminar experience. These will be highlighted for your consideration.
Officials will find this new system to be beneficial and it will make your overall USA Hockey experience a more valuable one. Let’s get the season off to a great start!