Jim Leitner / Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Published May 11 2013
Force drop Game 2 of Clark Cup Finals on the road
The USHL’s Western Conference champions certainly can use a break after playing four playoff games in six days. The hectic schedule has taken its toll on the Force in the Clark Cup Finals.
For the second straight night, the Eastern Conference champion Dubuque Fighting Saints skated to a 4-1 victory in the championship series. The Force must win when the series resumes Friday in North Dakota, or their season will be over.
“This week, we’re going to go to the gas station and fill up with some gas,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “We weren’t consistent for three periods this weekend, but sometimes you have to respect the team you’re playing. Maybe they’re not allowing you to do the things you want to do.”
The Force averaged 3.6 goals per game in their five-game series with Waterloo and Sioux Falls to get here. But both nights they were limited to one goal on Arthur Brey, who led the USHL in goals-against average during the regular season.
“Dubuque’s a great defensive team,” Force forward Kenny Gillespie said. “They’re moving the puck D-to-D and out quickly, and it’s giving us a hard time. We’re a fast team and we like to play with speed, but they’re taking that away from us.
“We’re not sure if we should dump the puck in or skate it in. The nice thing is we have a week to figure it out. We’ve been playing a lot of games lately, and it seems like we’re playing a little tired. But I know we’ll recuperate and play hard Friday night.”
Dubuque’s Peter Quenneville opened the scoring 11:14 into the opening period on a laser of a slap shot two strides in from the blueline at the left point. Frankie DiChiara assisted.
Dubuque doubled its lead 3:38 later after Kyle McKenzie chipped the puck out of his own end. Matt Benning carried down the right wing and blasted a slap shot through Brendan Jensen’s leg pads.
That ended Jensen’s night after only six shots. Cam Johnson stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced over the final 43:07 of the game.
Fargo finally solved Brey at 1:16 of the second period. Alex Iafallo scored on the doorstep rebound of a Chris Buchanan blast.
But, just as they did Friday night, Dubuque responded 3 minutes after a Fargo goal. On their first power play of the night, Quenneville potted his second of the night. Mike Szmatula carried the puck behind the Fargo net and reversed a pass back to Quenneville, who scored on a perfectly placed one-time for a 3-1 lead.
Fargo pressured the Saints in the third period and had Brey scrambling in the final minutes with Johnson pulled for a sixth attacker.
“Finally, in the third period we got things going, and had a few chances that could have tied it up,” Marks said. “Human nature says that’s desperation. But there were at least three or four times there where we had the puck in the blue paint and we were digging hard, but we just couldn’t put one home.”
Dubuque sealed the victory on an empty net goal by Szmatula with 7 seconds remaining in regulation. The Saints improved to 7-0 in the playoffs at Mystique Community Ice Center, where they posted a league-best 25-3-4 record during the regular season.
FIRST PERIOD: 1, D, Quenneville (DiChiara, McKenzie), 11:14. 2, D, Benning, 14:52.
SECOND PERIOD: 3, F, Iafallo (Buchanan), 1:16. 4, D, Quenneville (Szmatula, Nevalainen), 4:23, (pp).
THIRD PERIOD: 5, D, Szmatula (Downing, Janssen), 19:53.
SAVES: F, Johnson, 27; Jensen 4. D, Brey, 25.