Photo courtesy of Neutral Zone Hockey
The final seed in the East versus the top team in the West. David versus Goliath. Your hand versus the Pringles can. We’ve heard this story before: the underdog with faith on their side, against the monolith who seems undefeatable. From the start of the USHL season up until this week, the Chicago Steel had barreled through almost every defense and goaltender on their way to a spot in the finals. How, then, did the Fargo Force manage to shut them out for the first time this season, in the first game of the 2021 Clark Cup Final? There might be a lot more answers than can fit in an article, but you can read below the three main reasons this happened tonight, rather than any other night.
1. Bottom-Six Experience
The Fargo Force’s firepower in the top half of their lineup leaves much to be desired, with Tristan Broz being their most prolific scorer at under a point per game (51 in 54). In contrast, the Chicago Steel have a 101-point scorer in Sean Farrell (2020, 5th round, MTL), as well as another four players above the point-per-game mark – the 2021 NHL Draft crop of Matthew Coronato, Josh Doan and Matthew Samoskevich, along with Erik Middendorf (2018, undrafted).