Indiana Claims Clark Cup

     Indiana won the U.S. Hockey League’s playoff championship Clark Cup on Friday night by defeating the Fargo Force 5-1 in Fargo, N.D., to take the series 3-1. Here’s information from the USHL Web site:

Mike Cichy earns Planet Hockey MVP honors with record performance

The Indiana Ice realized a dream and captured the Clark Cup as the 2009 USHL playoff champions.  It is the first national championship in club history.

Fargo jumped out in the first period with the goal of pushing the series to a deciding fifth game.  Less than four minutes into the game, forward Nate Condon scored a highlight-reel goal when he moved passed the Indiana defenseman and fired a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Brett Bennett giving Fargo the early 1-0 lead.  The Force turned on the offensive attack out-shooting the Ice 17-5 over the first 20 minutes.

Fargo had appeared to go up two goals when Keegan Flaherty skated in shorthanded and lifted a shot past Bennett.  During the following stoppage, the officials and goal judge conversed and properly determined that the puck had deflected off the post and had not entirely crossed the goal line.  However, on the play, a penalty was called and Flaherty was awarded a penalty shot.  Bennett turned away the attempt by Flaherty and the score remained 1-0.

Indiana came alive in the second as Shane Berschbach slammed in a loose puck after Bennett had made the original save on a Mike Cichy shot.  The power play goal evened the game and brought the Ice bench to life.  Less than six minutes later, Brandon Richardson gathered a rebound and fired it in for his seventh playoff goal.

Mike Cichy assisted on both second period goals giving him 18 assists during the postseason and tying a league single playoff record.

At 2:21 of the third period, Richardson scored his second of the night and North Dakota recruit Cichy recorded his third assist bringing his playoff total to 19 assists and establishing a Clark Cup Playoffs record.

Two minutes later, Grant Blakey extended the lead to three goals when he scored unassisted on a backhander that eluded Fargo goaltender Mike Lee.  Zach Golembiewski made the score 5-1 when he scored an empty goal after Fargo had pulled Lee in favor of the extra attacker.

Fargo out-shot their opponents for the first time in the playoffs with a 37-19 advantage in Game Four, but it wasn’t enough as Bennett made 36 saves and finished the final series with a stellar 1.25 GAA and a .955 SV%.

As time expired, the jubilant Ice players stormed in the playing surface in celebration of winning the championship series.  Mike Cichy was presented the Planet Hockey Clark Cup Playoff MVP award after his record-setting performance.  USHL Commissioner Skip Prince presented the Clark Cup to Indiana captain Brent Gwidt who raised the trophy with the rest of his teammates at center ice.

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