2024 Sioux City Musketeers vs Lincoln Stars

2024 USHL Conference Semifinals: Matchups, Predictions And How To Watch

2024 USHL Conference Semifinals: Matchups, Predictions And How To Watch

The first round of the 2024 Clark Cup Playoffs ended with three of the four first-round series going to a decisive third game. Now, on to the semifinals.

Apr 18, 2024 by Ryan Sikes
2024 USHL Conference Semifinals: Matchups, Predictions And How To Watch

The first round of the 2024 Clark Cup Playoffs wrapped up Wednesday evening, with three of the four best-of-three first-round series going to a decisive third game. Tri-City, Lincoln, Youngstown and Green Bay were the four teams to advance to this week’s semifinals.

In the Western Conference, Tri-City scored four times in the first period en route to a lopsided 8-3 win over Sioux Falls. Artemi Nizameyev recorded a hat trick in the win, while Storm netminder Cameron Korpi turned aside 25 of 28 shots on goal. 

The sixth-seeded Lincoln Stars swept No. 2 Waterloo on Tuesday to punch their ticket to the Conference Semifinals.

Over in the Eastern Conference, Ryan Rucinski scored a hat trick for Youngstown, as the Phantoms skated to an 8-4 win over Madison. The defending Clark Cup champions dropped Game 1 but stormed back to take the final two games and the series.

Meanwhile, Green Bay’s Aidan Park scored the overtime winner with under four minutes remaining in the extra session. With the win, the Gamblers snapped a 12-year drought without winning a playoff series.

Where To Watch The 2024 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs

All games during the 2024 Clark Cup Playoffs will stream exclusively on FloHockey. Sign up today to get access to every game live and on demand. Sign up here.

What Teams Made The Conference Semifinals In The 2024 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs?

  • Fargo Force
  • Sioux City Musketeers
  • Dubuque Fighting Saints
  • Muskegon Lumberjacks
  • Green Bay Gamblers
  • Youngstown Phantoms
  • Tri-City Storm
  • Lincoln Stars

Matchups For Western Conference Semifinals

No. 6 Lincoln Vs. No. 2 Sioux City

The Lincoln Stars opened a lot of eyes in the first round, handily sweeping higher-seeded Waterloo in two games. Netminder Yan Shostak had a Matt Davis-like performance, recording a 0.988 save percentage in the series.

Sioux City and Lincoln split their regular-season meetings at 3-3-0-0. The Musketeers are well-rested, but with the circus in town this weekend, Lincoln will host Games 1 and 2, with the final three games (should the series go five games) in Sioux City.

Players To Watch

Lincoln: Yan Shostak

Shostak was incredible in the first round, stopping a combined 79 of 80 shots on goal, including a 40-save shutout in Game 1. The Lincoln Stars netminder will need to be at his best against a Sioux City squad that averaged 3.70 goals per game during the regular season.

Sioux City: Kaden Shahan

Shahan had a terrific regular season, and NHL Central Scouting recognized his efforts as a re-entry candidate in the 2024 NHL Draft. The Sioux City forward is a pure sniper and had four goals in six games against Lincoln this year.

Lincoln Stars vs. Sioux City Musketeers Playoffs Schedule

Game 1: Sioux City at Lincoln (Friday, April 19 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 2: Sioux City at Lincoln (Saturday, April 20 at 6:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 3: Lincoln at Sioux City (Monday, April 22 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 4 (if necessary): Lincoln at Sioux City (Tuesday, April 23 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 5 (if necessary): Lincoln at Sioux City (Thursday, April 25 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Lincoln Vs. Sioux City Series Predictions

Sioux City in five games.

No. 4 Tri-City Vs. No. 1 Fargo

The Storm survived and advanced, despite being without Trevor Connelly. 

Tri-City's success truly was a team effort, with the likes of Owen Beckner, Artemi Nizameyev, August Falloon and others elevating their games.

However, the Fargo Force made the regular season look easy, setting several franchise and league records en route to their second consecutive Anderson Cup Trophy. 

The Force collected points in four of the six regular-season meetings with Tri-City, despite being outscored 27-26. We will see if a Connelly-less Storm team can match Fargo’s effort.

Players To Watch

Tri-City: Nolan Roed (2024)

Without Trevor Connelly, who is with Team USA for the 2024 IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship, Roed stepped up big for the Storm. 

The White Bear Lake, Minnesota, native had a three-point night in Game 1 against Sioux Falls and finished with a two-goal performance in Tri-City’s series-clinching win Wednesday.

Fargo: Mac Swanson (2024)

Swanson showed a tremendous scoring touch during the regular season, recording 26 goals in addition to a league-leading 51 assists. 

The North Dakota commit’s 77 points were the third among all USHL skaters.

Tri-City Storm Vs. Fargo Force Playoffs Schedule

Game 1: Tri-City at Fargo (Saturday, April 20 at 6:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 2: Tri-City at Fargo (Monday, April 22 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 3: Fargo at Tri-City (Wednesday, April 24 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 4 (if necessary): Fargo at Tri-City (Thursday, April 25 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 5 (if necessary): Tri-City at Fargo (Friday, April 26 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Tri-City Vs. Fargo Series Predictions

Fargo in four.

Matchups For Eastern Conference Semifinals

No. 4 Youngstown Vs. No. 1 Dubuque

The defending Clark Cup champion Youngstown Phantoms showed what they were capable of with their backs against the wall. 

The Phantoms dropped Game 1 against Madison but forcefully took Games 2 and 3, outscoring the Capitols 13-6 to win the series.

Perhaps some early adversity is exactly what Youngstown needed going up against the top-seeded Dubuque Fighting Saints, who went 3-0-0-1 in four regular-season meetings with the Phantoms.

Players To Watch

Youngstown: Ryan Rucinski (2024)

Rucinski had just 14 points in 53 games during the regular season. However, the Ohio State commit stepped up in Youngstown’s Game 3 win Wednesday, tallying a hat trick.

Dubuque: Noah Powell

I’m still not quite sure how Powell was not listed on Central Scouting’s final rankings. Given that he led the USHL in goals (43) and power-play goals (16), he is a fascinating re-entry candidate in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Youngstown Phantoms Vs. Dubuque Fighting Saints Playoffs Schedule

Game 1: Youngstown at Dubuque (Saturday, April 20 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 2: Youngstown at Dubuque (Sunday, April 21 at 5:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 3: Dubuque at Youngstown (Tuesday, April 23 at 7:05 p.m. EDT)

Game 4 (if necessary): Dubuque at Youngstown (Wednesday, April 24 at 7:05 p.m. EDT)

Game 5 (if necessary): Youngstown at Dubuque (Friday, April 26 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Youngstown Vs. Dubuque Series Predictions

Dubuque in five games.

No. 3 Green Bay Vs. No. 2 Muskegon

This matchup should have no shortage of excitement, given that the two teams finished tied in the standings with 78 points. 

The Gamblers outlasted the Chicago Steel in the first round, which could give Green Bay a ton of confidence heading into Muskegon.

However, the Lumberjacks were an absolute unit down the stretch, winning seven of their final 10 games to grab the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

Can the Gamblers limit the Jacks’ top-scoring line of Cody Croal, Matvei Gridin and Joe Connor?

Players To Watch

Green Bay: Aidan Park (2024)

Park was a late roster addition for Green Bay after his season with Shattuck ended. What perfect timing for the University of Michigan commit, who potted the overtime winner for the Gamblers in a do-or-die Game 3 on Wednesday.

Muskegon: Matvei Gridin (2024)

Gridin was the USHL’s leading point-getter, tallying 83 points (38-45-83) in 60 games. 

He’s a big-bodied forward who can shoot, and I really was impressed with his back-checking ability when I saw him against Chicago in the regular-season finale.

Green Bay Gamblers Vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks Playoffs Schedule

Game 1: Green Bay at Muskegon (Saturday, April 20 at 7:10 p.m. EDT)

Game 2: Green Bay at Muskegon (Sunday, April 21 at 3:10 p.m. EDT)

Game 3: Muskegon at Green Bay (Tuesday, April 23 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 4 (if necessary): Muskegon at Green Bay (Wednesday, April 24 at 7:05 p.m. CDT)

Game 5 (if necessary): Green Bay at Muskegon (Friday, April 26 at 7:10 p.m. EDT)

Green Bay vs. Muskegon Series Predictions

Muskegon in four.

What Is The Format Of The USHL Clark Cup Playoffs?

The 2024 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs started with 12 teams, six from each conference. The top two teams in each conference automatically were seeded into the conference semifinals, while the others had to battle through the best-of-three first round.

The Conference Semifinals, Conference Finals and Clark Cup Finals all will feature a best-of-five format, with the higher seeds hosting Games 1, 2 and 5.

What NHL Draft Prospects Will Be Playing In The Clark Cup Playoffs?

Based on NHL Central Scouting’s most recent 2024 NHL Draft rankings, these are some of the top players expected to be participating in the 2024 Clark Cup Playoffs:

  • Mac Swanson, Fargo Force
  • Nolan Roed, Tri-City
  • Sacha Boisvert, Muskegon Lumberjacks
  • Matvei Gridin, Muskegon Lumberjacks
  • Adam Kleber, Lincoln Stars
  • Hagen Burrows, Sioux City Musketeers
  • Xavier Veilleux, Muskegon Lumberjacks
  • Tory Pitner, Youngstown Phantoms
  • Jake Sondreal, Dubuque Fighting Saints
  • Aidan Park, Green Bay Gamblers

What NHL Prospects Will be Playing In The USHL Clark Cup Playoffs?

Many players already drafted by NHL teams will be participating in the USHL's Clark Cup Playoffs this season. 

Here’s a list of some of the more notable prospects set to appear in the postseason:

  • Julian Lutz, Green Bay Gamblers (Arizona Coyotes)
  • Jayson Shaugabay, Green Bay Gamblers (Tampa Bay Lightning)
  • Juraj Pekarcik, Dubuque Fighting Saints (St. Louis Blues)
  • Andrew Strathmann, Youngstown Phantoms (Columbus Blue Jackets)
  • Zam Plante, Fargo Force (Pittsburgh Penguins)
  • Vlaidislav Lukashevich, Tri-City Storm (Florida Panthers)
  • Beckett Hendrickson, Dubuque Fighting Saints (Boston Bruins)
  • Hamton Slukynsky, Fargo Force (Los Angeles Kings)
  • Kevin Reidler, Dubuque Fighting Saints (Ottawa Senators)
  • Adam Gajan, Green Bay Gamblers (Chicago Blackhawks)

NHL Draft 2024 Coverage On FloHockey 

Don’t miss the latest NHL Draft coverage on FloHockey.

Watch ECHL, USHL And More On FloHockey 

FloHockey is the streaming home to some of the best hockey leagues in North America, including the USHL, ECHL and more. Check out the broadcast schedule to watch more hockey.

Join The Hockey Conversation On FloHockey Social