Mac Swanson

Mac Swanson is a playmaker more than a goal scorer.

The rookie winger from Anchorage led USHL rookies in assists in the regular season – 43 helpers in 57 games – and furnished the Fargo Force six instances of assist streaks. He reeled off a six-game assist streak, three three-game runs and two two-game helper streaks.

By comparison, Swanson only once in the regular season generated consecutive games with goals – that came in November, when he racked four goals in a three-game span.

The equation has flipped in the Clark Cup playoffs. Swanson on Sunday scored Fargo’s first goal for the second straight game to help the Force to a 3-2 road win over the Lincoln Stars and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Western Conference Finals. Swanson also assisted on the Cole Knuble third-period goal that turned into the game-winning strike. Swanson scored a goal in Game 2 Saturday, which Lincoln won 4-3.

Bret Link

In five playoff games – Fargo swept Tri-City in a best-of-3 series earlier – Swanson is tied for the team lead in goals, assists and points with 2-3—5 totals. The University of North Dakota commit is plus-2 with six shots on goal.

Linemate Bret Link of Anchorage, a Colorado College commit, also assisted on Knuble’s goal in Game 3 Sunday and had an assist in Game 2. He’s yet to bag a playoff goal this spring after pocketing 26 goals in 61 regular-season games, but he has contributed those two assists in five playoff games, with a plus-1 rating and 10 shots. The Force also includes rookie defenseman Camden Shasby, a Western Michigan commit who has played in four of five playoff games and earned an even rating.

Game 4 in the Fargo-Lincoln series is Monday in Nebraska. If necessary, Game 5 would be Thursday in North Dakota.

As the season winds down at all levels in the postseason, Swanson, Link and Shasby are among the few Alaskans left playing.

Two other Alaskans are going head-to-head in the pro ranks.

Rookie forward Nolan Walker of Anchorage has helped the Newfoundland Growlers earn a 2-0 lead in the ECHL’s best-of-7 North Division Finals against forward Alec Butcher of Anchorage and the Reading Royals.

Walker scored one goal and assisted on another Sunday in Newfoundland’s 5-4 overtime road win. Newfoundland opened the series with a 3-0 win Saturday.

Walker has elevated his production in the postseason. He’s put up 3-2—5 totals in seven games, with a plus-2 rating, after going 15-26—41 and plus-5 in 68 regular-season games.

Butcher, the former UAA skater, is still searching for his first goal this postseason after scoring 21 goals in 72 regular-season games. He owns two assists in eight playoff games this spring, with 12 shots and a minus-2 rating.

Game 3 in the Newfoundland-Reading series is Tuesday in Pennsylvania.

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