The Sioux City Musketeers are bringing it home. For the first time since 1986, the Musketeers can say they are the Clark Cup Champions after defeating the defending Clark Cup Champion Omaha Lancers 3 games to 2 in a best of five series. The Musketeers will open up a brand new ice facility next season and they found the perfect way to open it up next year, by hanging a banner. Ironically enough on the other end, the Lancers closed the doors to their historic stadium on the losing end. Neither team has anything to be upset about. The Lancers chased the Musketeers early on before overtaking first place midway through the season. It was a spot Omaha would not relinquish en route to winning the Anderson Cup for the regular season title. The Musketeers felt they were the best team in the league but faltered temporarily after the tragic death of Matt Ciancio’s sister. The team seemed to deflate just long enough for Omaha to take the lead in the division. Sadly enough, Kris Mayotte faced the same tragic situation in this series but Sioux City was not letting the Lancers overtake them this time. The Musketeers stood tall and stood proud.
Sioux City had a number of players who deserve the title of MVP after this wondrous playoff run eliminating Sioux Falls, Green Bay and finally Omaha. Brandon Schwartz scored 10 goals and had 5 assists leading the Muskies offense in the postseason. Three of those goals were on the power play while another three were game winners. Brad Zancanaro and Ciancio, who were at the top of the leader boards in the league in scoring, contributed heavily behind Schwartz. Zancanaro had only 1 goal but had an amazing 13 assists for 14 points while Ciancio added 5 goals and 6 assists. 2 of Ciancio’s goals were shorthanded and the 2nd of them played a key role in bringing Sioux City back from a two goal defecit in the fifth and deciding game against Omaha. Defensively Ryan Geris made a big name for himself as he continued to prove he is one of the top defenders in the league. He added 4 goals and 6 assists to help the team out on the offensive end. Andy Franck, who faced a majority of the goaltending duties was steller, going 8-3 with 1 shutout, a 2.46 goals against average and a .916 saves percentage.
For Omaha they were a defense first team who followed the lead of their goaltending star, Dominic Vicari past Chicago and Cedar Rapids before falling. Although Omaha lost the championship series, Vicari was the top rated goaltender in the postseason going 6-2 with a meager 1.50 goals against average and .922 saves percentage. But the lack of offense somewhat came back to haunt them. Superstar Aaron Slattengren scored an impressive 18 points on 7 goals and 11 assists but no other Lancer scored in double figures. Miikka Jaske came the closest with 5 goals and 4 assists. The Lancers experience and determination was simply outdone by the Musketeers in what will go down as one of the greatest series in recent memory. It is the first time since the 1999 Des Moines Buccaneers that an Iowa based team won the Clark Cup title. So congratulations to both the Musketeers and the Lancers who left us with a season’s worth of memories.