Fargo Force open USHL playoffs Friday, April 28, at Scheels Arena
The Force clinched the Western Conference's No. 1 seed over the weekend and will play the winner of a first-round matchup between Sioux City and Tri-City in the conference semifinals.
FARGO — The Anderson Cup-winning Fargo Force will have a few days off before opening their pursuit of the United State Hockey League's top prize, the Clark Cup.
The USHL Clark Clup Playoffs commence Monday, April 24 with first round matchups in the Western and Eastern conferences.
The Force clinched the Anderson Cup as the regular-season champions and the No. 1 Western Conference seed in their penultimate game on Friday. They will play the winner of a first round series between Sioux City and Tri-City in the Western Conference semifinals beginning April 28. The Force will host all games, which will be played on consecutive days.
“The entire USHL is excited to get the 2023 Clark Cup Playoffs underway,” USHL President and Commissioner Bill Robertson said on the league's website. “It has been such an exciting time to get to this point of the season with clubs competing at such a high-level this season. We wish all our member clubs the very best as they embark on this memorable Playoff journey and the thrilling games ahead.”
The 12-team playoff format features six teams from each of the Eastern and Western conferences. The playoffs are four rounds, starting with best-of-three first round series between the conferences' No. 3 and No. 6 seeds and No. 4 and No 5 seeds from each of the two conferences. All three games will be played at the higher seed’s home location on three consecutive nights.
In the Western Conference, the third-seeded Lincoln Stars host the six-seed Des Moines Buccaneers with all three games beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the Ice Box in Lincoln, Neb. Seeded fourth, the Tri-City Storm hosts the No. 5-seed Sioux City Musketeers, with all three games beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the Viaero Center in Kearney, Neb.
In the Eastern Conference, the No. 3-seed USA Hockey National Team Development Program hosts the sixth-seeded Cedar Rapids RoughRiders with all games scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. The No. 4-seed Green Bay Gamblers host the No. 5 Dubuque Fighting Saints, with all three games starting at 7:05 p.m. at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis.
Following the first round, the winner of the No. 3 vs. No. 6 series will automatically play the No. 2 seeds from their respective conference. Youngstown is the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and Waterloo in the Western Conference's two-seed.
The winners of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series will automatically play the No. 1 seeds in the conference semifinals. Chicago is the No. 1 Eastern Conference seed.
The winners of the conference semifinals play in best-of-five conference final series beginning May 5. The format of conference final will be 2-2-1 with games 1, 2 and 5 at the higher seed. The Eastern and Western conference champions will meet in the Clark Cup Final, a best-of-five series played in the 2-2-1 format with the higher seed hosting games 1, 2 and 5.