2023 Fargo Force vs Youngstown Phantoms

Youngstown Phantoms Win First Clark Cup Title Thanks To Fowler, Cerbone

Youngstown Phantoms Win First Clark Cup Title Thanks To Fowler, Cerbone

Andon Cerbone scored in the third period and Jacob Fowler stopped all 22 shots he saw to lead the Youngstown Phantoms to their first Clark Cup title.

May 20, 2023 by Ryan Sikes
WATCH: Clark Cup Trophy Presentation

For the first time in team history, the Youngstown Phantoms are Clark Cup champions.

In front of a sold-out Covelli Centre crowd, the Phantoms took Game 3 on Friday night, sweeping the Anderson Cup-winning Fargo Force in the Clark Cup Final and flipping the script on their rematch of the 2018 championship series.

Andon Cerbone’s goal was the game's lone tally as Youngstown netminder Jacob Fowler stopped all 22 shots sent his way, marking his sixth shutout of the year and first in the postseason.

Featuring perhaps the two best goaltenders in the league, we knew coming into this series that goals would be hard to come by. It was just a matter of which team could capitalize on the other’s mistakes.

And like the first two games in this series, neither team could find the back of the net through two periods.

The first 20 minutes were slow-moving, penalty-filled, and chippy in a stretch that saw the two teams combine for six minor, two double-minor, and two 10-minute major penalties as the shots came few and far between.

Youngstown took a 6-5 shots on goal advantage into the locker room at the first intermission.

The Phantoms had two power play opportunities in the opening 20 minutes, and forward Justin Varner nearly made it a one-goal lead for the home team as the power play expired. But Force goaltender Matej Marinov made a terrific point-blank save to keep the game scoreless.

Into the second period, aside from matching minors in the opening minute of play, there was no shortage of action at either end, with the first media timeout coming at approximately the halfway mark.

The Phantoms controlled the pace of play in the first half of the period, with Andrew Strathmann notably ringing a shot from the point off the crossbar on Youngstown’s third power play of the night.

Fargo made a strong push in the second half of the period, with Leo Gruba generating two great scoring chances and Cole Knuble a point-blank chance on Fowler late in the frame.

Marinov made another great save on a 2-on-1 chance for Youngstown with approximately five minutes left in the period.

Youngstown finally broke through just 24 seconds into the third period after a Fargo turnover in their defensive zone led to the goal.

Kenta Isogai applied a heavy forecheck on Gruba, causing an errant pass right to the stick of Cerbone, who ripped a shot past Marinov from the slot. The goal marked the Quinnipiac commit’s fifth of the postseason and second game-winner in the Clark Cup Final.

The Force could do little to generate quality scoring chances down the stretch as Fowler proved why he was named USHL Goaltender of the Year.

The Boston College commit appropriately ended his time with the Phantoms, stopping 81-of-83 shots in three games in the championship round, earning Clark Cup Most Outstanding Player honors.