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Ice show: Indiana wins Clark Cup after defeating Fargo Force in USHL finals

For the first time, a University of North Dakota hockey recruit cost Dean Blais a shot at a championship. Future Sioux player Mike Cichy racked up three assists to set up the Indiana Ice for a 5-1 win over the Fargo Force at Urban Plains Center o...

Indiana Ice players mob goalie Brett Bennett
Indiana Ice players mob goalie Brett Bennett after the Ice's 5-1 victory against the Fargo Force on Friday at the Urban Plains Center. David Samson / The Forum

For the first time, a University of North Dakota hockey recruit cost Dean Blais a shot at a championship.

Future Sioux player Mike Cichy racked up three assists to set up the Indiana Ice for a 5-1 win over the Fargo Force at Urban Plains Center on Friday.

Cichy was named playoff MVP after recording a USHL-record 19 assists in the postseason. He had two goals and seven assists in the four games against Fargo.

"Oh, it was everyone, not just me," Cichy said. "You can't get assists without them scoring the goals - and we had a little bit of luck."

The series victory gave Indiana its first Clark Cup.

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Needing to win at least one game in Fargo to have a shot at the title, Indiana won them both. And the Ice won them convincingly by a combined score of 11-1.

"Fargo's a good team and had an unbelievable run, but we were able to make plays every time we needed to," Ice coach Jeff Blashill said.

Fargo took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a pretty goal from Nate Condon - his first of the playoffs. But it was the goal that wasn't that the Force will remember.

Keegan Flaherty got a short-handed breakaway and got one past Ice goalie Brett Bennett that hit the crossbar.

The referee initially called it a goal, but it was waved off.

Since Flaherty was dragged down on the play, he was awarded a penalty shot, which Bennett stuffed.

"Instead of going up 2-0, it's just 1-0, and we lose all of the momentum," Force captain Luke Witkowski said. "That was the turning point in the game."

Fargo outshot the Ice 17-5 in the first period, but held just a 1-0 lead. Indiana got goals from Shane Berschbach and Brandon Richardson in the second period to take the lead.

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Just 2 minutes, 21 seconds into the third, Richardson scored again to set off a three-goal third that sunk the Force.

Brett Bennett stopped 36 shots in the victory, and those 16 in the first period kept the Ice in it.

"That's what he's done all year," Blashill said. "He kept us in it and gave us a chance to win."

Cichy was only with the Ice for half the season, coming to Indiana in a trade with Tri-City - the last place team in the West Division - for a first-round draft pick.

The deal looks pretty good for the Ice now.

"We're 20-30 points out of first and I know we're not going anywhere," Cichy said. "Then I get traded, and it's like being born again.

"They wanted to get me, so I made worked to do whatever I could for them."

Fargo was trying to become just the second USHL team to win the Clark Cup in its inaugural season.

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Force head coach Blais was unavailable for comment after the game.

"Playing here was as good as it gets without winning the Clark Cup," Witkowski said. "It hurts. The memory of being so close will be there, but we had a great season."

FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Condon (Franks), 3:47.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, I, Berschbach (Cichy), 8:16 (pp). 3, I, Richardson (Cichy), 14:08.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, I, Richardson (Cichy), 2:21 (pp). 5, I, Blakey, 4:38. 6, I, Golembiewski, 14:46 (en).

SAVES: I, Bennett 16-11-9--26. F, M. Lee 5-5-3--13.

A: 3,946.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

Collins' blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com

Related Topics: HOCKEYUSHL
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