Green Bay Gamblers Win USHL Clark Cup

By League Press Release

For the first time in the series, the home team won a game as the Green Bay Gamblers earned victory in the fifth and deciding game in the USHL Clark Cup Finals.  The Gamblers who once trailed in the series 2-0, won three straight over the Fargo Force to claim the third Clark Cup title in team history.

The Force started the scoring when Garrett Allen fired a shot from a tough angle over the shoulder of Gamblers goaltender Steve Summerhays.  It was the fourth goal of the series for Allen and the fourth time this series that Fargo had scored the first goal of the game.

The Gamblers came alive in the second putting a barrage of shots on Force goaltender Ryan Massa.  Robert Francis scored for the second straight game to pull the score even at 1-1 just 37 seconds into the second stanza.  Less than two minutes later, Ryan Furne put the Gamblers ahead when he found a loose puck in the Fargo crease and put home his seventh goal of the postseason.  Despite being outshot 15-6 in the period, the Force battled back as Joe Rehkamp scored his second goal in as many games to tie the game at two goals apiece.

It was only fitting that the back-and-forth series would come down to the final period of the final game.  Matt Leitner gave the Force the lead when scored his 10th goal of the playoffs on the power play just under five minutes into the final period.  It also meant that Leitner recorded a point in all 12 postseason games that he played.  A few minutes later, the Gamblers took advantage of a power play as Anders Lee was credited with his 10th goal of the playoffs after redirecting a point shot by defenseman Nick Jensen and once again the score was tied.  Four minutes later, Gamblers forward Sean Little picked the right time to score his first goal of the playoffs as his blast snuck by Force goaltender Ryan Massa and put the Gamblers on top 4-3.  The Force pulled the goaltender in favor of the extra attacker in the final moments, but Robert Francis sealed the victory for Green Bay when he buried an empty net goal with just 12 seconds to play.

A huge celebration began at the final buzzer as a record crowd of 8,487 witnessed Game Five at the Resch Center.  It was the largest crowd in the history of the Gamblers organization and also the largest crowd to ever see a USHL playoff game.

Gamblers forward Anders Lee was named the USHL Clark Cup Playoff MVP.  He led the League in playoff scoring with 22 points (10g, 12a) including three points (1g, 2a) in Game Five of the series.  USHL Commissioner Skip Prince then presented the Clark Cup to Gamblers captain Patrick McCadden and the team circled the ice to salute the sold out crowd.

Notes…The last time the Gamblers won the Clark Cup was ten years ago during the 1999-2000 season….The Gamblers captured both the Anderson Cup as regular season champions and the Clark Cup as playoff champions.  The last USHL team to accomplish that feat was the Omaha Lancers during the 2007-08 season…USHL referees Boone Bruggman and Curtis Marouelli along with linesman Judson Ritter and Brian Oliver worked the historic Game Five.

Boxscore

Post Game Reaction

Green Bay Gamblers forward Anders Lee on the victory in Game Five…

"It was a total team effort. We were down the whole series and were down again tonight, but we battled through.  It just shows how much character and perseverance our team has."

Lee on capping the season with a championship…

"This was our goal beginning in September.  It was a long journey and a lot of things had to go right for us, and they did, but we made our luck ourselves."

Lee on being named playoff MVP…

"It was a reflection of my teammates.  I had a great line of Reed Seckel and Ryan Furne, and I was just fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.  I am very honored to get that award." 

Gamblers goaltender Steve Summerhays on winning the Clark Cup…

"This is unbelievable right here and the feelings that I have.  This is your dream when you grow up playing hockey – to win a national championship like this.  This team was the greatest group of guys I have ever met in my life and I will never forget this.  All season we believed in the guy sitting right next to us and we are a championship team now."

Green Bay Gamblers Head Coach Jon Cooper on winning a championship…

"I got a text from my wife after winning that triple-overtime in Game Three and it said, ‘You never like to do anything ordinary.’  You know what, that has been the story of this team.  Down in Game Three with a minute to go on the verge of getting swept, then we pulled a reverse sweep.  I can’t say enough about these kids believing in themselves and to pull this one out."

Cooper on the Fargo Force…

"We are going to get a lot of credit out of this, but I have to tip my cap because you look at Fargo and what they have done in two short years.  They were a valiant opponent and they made us the team we are right now because of the competition that was on the ice the whole series.  What a great, great final."

Cooper on the record crowd…

"Look at this – over 8,400 people at a junior hockey game in the USHL.  It’s a tribute to every organization in this League, and leadership of Commissioner Skip Prince and Gino Gasparini before him of what they have turned this League into.  With great organizations and great coaches in this League, this is the product you get.  I tell you what, it would be hard for me to understand why kids in the United States wouldn’t want to play in this League."

Fargo Force Head Coach Steve Johnson on Game Five…

"It was a great game and I thought we put ourselves in a spot to win it in the third period, especially in an atmosphere like this.  Our guys played really hard, competed well, and gave us a chance."

Johnson on the series…

"The series was all kinds of twists and turns.  I have been out of the League for a couple years prior to this season, but I don’t remember in all my years, a Finals quite like this.  It was exciting for all the players and Green Bay had a well-deserved championship and our guys have nothing to hang their head about."

Johnson on his team’s playoff run…

"We are disappointed, but in all five games of the series, a bounce or two here and there was the difference in each game.  I thought we did everything we needed to give us a chance to win here and our players responded very well.  But, to Green Bay’s credit, they made just one or two more plays than us to win it."

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates eighth season as the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league in 2009-10.  With over 230 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools and 13 NHL Entry Draft picks currently on League rosters, the USHL is the nation’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.  For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com.