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Around The Rinks: Add USHL Clark Cup crown and MVP to Mac Swanson’s magnificent May; Nolan Walker and ECHL Mavericks rolling in Kelly Cup conference finals

by | May 19, 2024 | Cover Story, Hockey

Eagle River’s Mac Swanson. Photo courtesy Fargo Force

Mac Swanson’s dream season ended Saturday night with the 18-year-old from Anchorage lifting the U.S. Hockey League’s Clark Cup and earning the playoff Most Valuable Player award after leading the postseason in points.

The decorated left wing set up Brandon Svoboda’s empty-net clincher to seal the Fargo Force’s 3-1 road win and 3-1 series win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

League general managers earlier this month voted Swanson the Player of the Year, Forward of the Year and All-USHL. He led the league in assists and ranked third in points with 26-51—77 totals in 55 games. His plus-39 rating also tied for the lead league.

Swanson scored at least one point in 10 of 12 playoff games and put up 5-12—17 totals and a plus-7 rating. The next closest player had 10 points.

Swanson’s championship came 30 years after his dad, former NHL center Brian Swanson, won a Clark Cup with the Omaha Lancers.

Swanson, who made the USHL All-Rookie team last season, capped a remarkable two-season career in the country’s top junior league. In 112 regular-season games, he delivered 39-94—132 totals and a plus-66 rating. In 21 playoff games, he went 8-19—27 and plus-8.

The Force won the Anderson Cup as the league’s regular-season champions and went a combined 59-13-5 in the regular season and playoffs.

Swanson will be a true freshman at North Dakota in the fall and is eligible for this summer’s NHL draft.

Meanwhile, in the pro ECHL, Kansas City Mavericks center Nolan Walker of Anchorage and his crew own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals against the Toledo Walleye.

The Mavericks seized the series opener, 3-2 in Toledo, on Friday and added a 5-1 road win Saturday. Walker in each game furnished one shot on goal and a plus-1 rating. He owns 4-5—9 and plus-6 totals in 11 playoff games.

Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is Monday in Toledo. The remaining series games are set for Kansas City, with Game 4 on Friday. That’s an unusual schedule, given the Mavericks are the No. 1 seed, which customarily comes with home-ice advantage for the first two games of a best-of-7 series. But arena availability is occasionally an issue and prompts an unusual schedule.

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