The top teams in each USHL conference in the regular season will meet in the Clark Cup Final as the Chicago Steel and Sioux City Musketeers open the best-of-five series Friday night in Sioux City, Iowa.
As expected in the nation’s only Tier I junior league, both rosters are filled with future NCAA players. A total of 44 players on the two teams are committed to 30 Division I schools (full list below).
Chicago enters the Clark Cup Final with three of the top six scorers in the USHL playoffs in Jack Badini (Harvard, 13 points), Marc Johnstone (Sacred Heart, 10) and Eduards Tralmaks (Maine, 9). Sioux City counters with Kristian Pospisil (uncommitted, 10) and Tarek Baker (Wisconsin, 9) among the league’s top six scorers.
The Steel defeated Youngstown and Dubuque to advance to the finals, while Sioux City won series vs. Des Moines and Waterloo. The first two games of the series will be held Friday and Saturday in Sioux City before the series shifts to Chicago for Game 3 on May 19. All games are available on HockeyTV.
Five schools have had recruits on each team appear in the playoffs:
- Arizona State – Chicago’s Johnny Walker and Sioux City’s Jacob Wilson
- Connecticut – Chicago’s Adam Karashik and Sioux City’s Brian Rigali
- New Hampshire – Chicago’s Corson Green and Sioux City’s Charlie Kelleher
- Penn State – Chicago’s Tyler Gratton and Sioux City’s Connor McMenamin
- Western Michigan – Chicago’s Derek Daschke and Sioux City’s Carson Vance
Several other schools have had multiple commits appear in the playoffs for one of the teams in the Clark Cup Final:
- Boston College – Sioux City’s Aapeli Rasanen and Eeli Tolvanen
- Harvard – Chicago’s Badini and Baker Shore
- Minnesota State – Chicago’s Jake Jaremko and Reggie Lutz
- Providence – Chicago’s Ben Mirageas and Jason O’Neill
Tolvanen is a first-round NHL Draft prospect, while Chicago counters with three players on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings in Mirageas, Brannon McManus (Minnesota) and Dayton Rasmussen (Denver).
Both head coaches in the final are former NCAA players and assistant coaches. Chicago’s Dan Muse is in his second season in the USHL after winning an NCAA champion as an assistant at Yale. Jay Varady, who played and coached at Union, is in his fourth season at Sioux City.
Chicago is seeking its first Clark Cup, while Sioux City seeks its fourth, but first since 2002.
|NCAA Commitments in Clark Cup Final|
|Chicago Steel (22)|
|Wyatt Aamodt||Minnesota State|
|Derek Daschke||Western Michigan|
|Tyler Gratton||Penn State|
|Corson Green||New Hampshire|
|Jake Jaremko||Minnesota State|
|Marc Johnstone||Sacred Heart|
|Matthew Kiersted||North Dakota|
|Mitch Lewandowski||Michigan State|
|Austen Long||Colorado College|
|Reggie Lutz||Minnesota State|
|Johnny Walker||Arizona State|
Sioux City Musketeers (22)
|Connor Ford||Bowling Green|
|Matt Hellickson||Notre Dame|
|Jackson Keane||North Dakota|
|Charlie Kelleher||New Hampshire|
|Cole Koepke||Minnesota Duluth|
|Keegan Mantaro||Air Force|
|Connor McMenamin||Penn State|
|Matthew Miller||Michigan State|
|Micah Miller||St. Cloud State|
|Aapeli Rasanen||Boston College|
|Eeli Tolvanen||Boston College|
|Carson Vance||Western Michigan|
|Jacob Wilson||Arizona State|