Elite Prospects

Phantoms Blank Fargo 1-0 to Claim First Clark Cup Title

May 19, 2023 – United States Hockey League (USHL) – Youngstown Phantoms News Release

Youngstown Phantoms' Andon Cerbone on game night
Youngstown Phantoms’ Andon Cerbone on game night
(Youngstown Phantoms)

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO – A stout defense, stellar goaltending, and one advantageous shot lifted the Youngstown Phantoms to a 1-0 win over the Fargo Force in Game 3 of the 2023 Clark Cup Final Friday night at the Covelli Centre. Youngstown swept the best-of-five series three-games-to-none, earning the first Clark Cup title in club history.

“These guys deserve it,” said Phantoms Head Coach Ryan Ward. “A group of kids that comes to the rink every day and has fun and works their tails off. I don’t have any words. The most deserving group of kids I’ve ever been around. Best staff in the world. You don’t want it to end, but if it was going to end, it’s got to end like this.”

Fargo carried play for most of the first period, but ended up getting outshot 6-5 in the frame. Youngstown’s Justin Varner had the best scoring chance of the frame, a back-to-front play that resulted in a beautiful save from Matej Marinov (23 saves). The Phantoms warmed to the task in the second period, outshooting Fargo 12-9, narrowly missing a 1-0 lead when Andrew Strathmann rang a shot off the crossbar on a mid-period power play.

Early in the third period, Youngstown broke the ice, providing all the offense Jacob Fowler (22 saves) would need. Forecheck pressure from Kenta Isogai forced the Fargo defense into a blind pass, which was stolen by Andon Cerbone. Using a defenseman in front of the net as a screen, Cerbone ripped a wrister past Marinov’s glove and into the twine for the lone marker of the game. “Bringing him in in December changed our team,” said Ward. “Andon Cerbone did a great job for us. Love the kid. Can’t wait to see him have a ton of success.”

With his 22 saves, Fowler recorded the second shutout in Phantoms’ playoff history. “Fowls has been unbelievable all year,” said Ward. “His poise, how he leads from the back. Unbelievable kid. He’s going to make some NHL team extremely happy in the near future.”

With the win, Youngstown moved to 6-0 all-time when they could clinch a playoff series at home. It was also the fifth straight win for the Phantoms, setting a season high. Fargo became the eighth Anderson Cup champion in the last 11 years that failed to win the Clark Cup. “We’re bonded together forever on this May 19th,” said Ward. “We had a group of people who are linear and unified in what we were trying to do here. A little belief and a little work ethic can change the world, and these kids certainly did that.”

By the Numbers

Shots – 24

Saves – 22

Power Play – 0/3

Penalty Kill – 1/1

Goals – Cerbone

Assists – none

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