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Indiana, Waterloo Set for Clark Cup Finals

05/08/2014, 1:15pm MDT
By Tom Robinson - Special to USAHockey.com

The Indiana Ice will sit out the 2014-15 season, but first the team will continue its pursuit of a championship to end the 2013-14 season. The Ice will play the Waterloo Black Hawks in the best-of-five Clark Cup Finals beginning Friday in Waterloo.

The Clark Cup determines the United States Hockey League’s postseason title as well as the USA Hockey Tier I junior national championship.

The USHL announced this week that the Ice would not participate in the 2014-15 season. The organization is trying to develop a new facility as its permanent home. The team has split time between the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the home of the National Basketball Association’s Indiana Pacers, and Pan Am Plaza the last two seasons.

The Ice had played at the Pepsi Coliseum from 2004 through the end of the 2011-12 season, before the Indiana State Fair Commission renovated the arena.

Players eligible to return to the Ice next season will be part of a dispersal draft after the season.

CLARK CUP: Indiana advanced to the Clark Cup Finals by completing a three-game conference finals sweep on Friday. The Ice beat the Dubuque Fighting Saints 3-2 despite managing just 14 shots. Joe Sullivan scored five minutes into the third period for a 3-1 lead and what proved to be the game-winning goal.

Waterloo defeated the Sioux City Musketeers 5-1 Sunday to complete a three-games-to-one victory. Cal Petersen made 37 saves in the clinching win.

Sioux City’s only win in the series came Friday, when it won 4-3 on a Joel L’Esperance overtime goal.

ROBERTSON CUP: The Fairbanks Ice Dogs will host the Austin Bruins Friday through Sunday in a best-of-three Robertson Cup Finals series. The Robertson Cup determines the North American Hockey League postseason title and the Tier II junior national championship.

Fairbanks allowed the Michigan Warriors just one goal during a two-game semifinal series sweep. Kevin Aldridge stopped 51 of 52 shots, including a 3-0 shutout in Game 2.

After Austin lost Game 1 against the Topeka RoadRunners, it recovered to win the next two games in Topeka, 6-4 and 4-3. The deciding game of the series came down to overtime. Drew Anderson scored on the power play a little more than two minutes in to end the series.

Fairbanks is looking for its second title in four years while playing in the final for the third time in five seasons.

USHL DRAFT: The Fargo Force made Riley Tufte, a forward from Blaine High School in Minnesota, the first overall pick in Phase 1 of the USHL Draft. Tufte, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound forward who committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, recently completed his sophomore season in which he scored 35 points in 25 games.

FRANCHISE MOVE: The North American 3 Hockey League has announced that the Battle Creek Revolution has been rebranded as the West Michigan Wolves and will continue in the league for the 2014-15 season.

Marc Fakler will take over as general manager and coach. Fakler was general manager and coach of the NAHL’s Kalamazoo Junior K-Wings from 2010-13.

MORE CHANGES: The Lincoln Stars have named Chris Hartsburg as the next coach of the USHL team. Hartsburg, a former USHL player from Edina, Minn., spent the 2013-14 season as assistant coach of the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League.

The Brookings Blizzard of the NAHL named Dan Daikawa as their next coach. Daikawa was in the NAHL this season as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wilderness. The previous two seasons, he served as coach and general manager of the Jamestown Ironmen. Daikawa played for Japan in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.

Paul Baxter has been promoted from coach to president and general manager of the Wichita Falls Wildcats. The team is searching for a new coach.

COLLEGE COMMITMENT: Joseph Cecconi, a rookie defenseman with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, has committed to the University of Michigan. The 16-year-old from Youngstown, N.Y. scored a goal in his USHL debut. He had six points in 28 games.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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08/27/2015, 9:00am MDT
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When it comes to women’s hockey, there is no argument that USA Hockey and Hockey Canada have the two premier programs in the world. Earlier this month, their young talent took to the ice in Lake Placid, New York, as a part of the U18 and U22 Select Series.

While there were several athletes on both teams who competed for their country in such an event for the first time, it also marked a special occasion for Melissa Szkola. An experienced official who has worked a handful of International Ice Hockey Federation events, Lake Placid marked her first USA-Canada affair. USA Hockey caught up with the Michigan native to talk about the amazing international experience and her evolving officiating career.


USA Hockey: What was it like to be a part of the U22 and U18 Select Series’

Melissa Szkola: The experience was wonderful. It was fantastic. We’ve essentially got the two best teams in the world competing against each other, so the learning experience, working with the officials that we have, is always amazing. You leave here a better person, a better official; that’s what we’re here for. That’s what I look forward to the most at these big-time events: the level of hockey and what you get out of it as a whole.

USAH: How did you first get into officiating?

Szkola: It’s been nine years since I got my start. I was a competitive figure skater and my older brother played hockey, so I’ve always been around the game, but it was my husband who actually got me into the officiating side of it. When we started dating, he was a roller and ice hockey official. He asked me to come with one time and I said ‘okay.’ That’s how I got started. It’s something he and I have in common and he is my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t be here without him.

USAH: So nine years under your belt, how would you describe some of your past IIHF events?

Szkola: I’ve had a handful of experiences with international tournaments. Each one has brought a new set of skills to my plate. You learn a lot about yourself and you learn a lot from your supervisors from different countries as well. To get out and work with other female officials and learn from them and your supervisors is amazing.

Being in another country, where sometimes there aren’t people who even speak English, is a really unique experience as well. The communication that you learn to speak with non-English speaking officials really makes you appreciate what you have in common – hockey.

USAH: How did the Select Series compare to those events?

Szkola: The level of play, it’s definitely much higher at the Select Series than any of the championships that I’ve been to. I wouldn’t say that the intensity is much different, because at each level they are competing for their highest achievement. The intensity is the same, the importance is the same, but the level of play is definitely much better; it’s faster, it’s crisper. Your awareness just has to be that much higher.

USAH: Did calling a game with high-caliber players like those at the Select Series shake up any nerves?

Szkola: I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous before we got on the ice. I’ve watched Team USA and Team Canada compete before, so you know the level at which they intend to play. Being out there with it, you just know where the emotions can go sometimes. It was a little nerve-wracking before the start, but as soon as that puck drops, you have a job to do. USA Hockey does a fantastic job developing us; I feel like they wouldn’t put you out there if you weren’t ready. Once that puck drops, you’re kind of at home.

USAH: What’s next for your officiating future?

Szkola: The support that I have, not only from my hometown in Michigan, but also the support and development USA Hockey has given really sets you up for success if you want to take it in that direction. That is my goal. I do want to skate in the Olympics. Moving forward I am going to continue to improve upon each experience that I have, because you can always be better. Mistakes do get made, so you learn from those and improve yourself. 

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