Forwards John Stevens and Peter Quenneville of the Dubuque Fighting Saints can take great pride in the fact they have something in common with their respective family members in the National Hockey League -- a Cup championship.
|John Stevens, Dubuque, USHL (Credit: Serena Dalhamer)|
Dubuque earned its second Clark Cup as the champion of the United States Hockey League on May 17 when it scored a 3-2 overtime victory over the Fargo Force in Game 3 to complete a sweep in the best-of-5 series in Fargo.
"This feels unbelievable -- this is the closest group of guys I've ever been a part of," Stevens told the league's website. "Right from the first day, we really bonded and were a tight-knit group. All year our main goal was to win the Clark Cup, and it finally came true."
Stevens, No. 182 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top 2013 draft eligible North American skaters, only had a goal and two points in nine playoff games but his line played a critical role in leading the team to victory. The 6-foot-2, 184-pounder, who is the son of Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens, will attend Northeastern University next fall.
"It was an awesome experience to watch [the Kings] win [the Stanley Cup] last year, and you learned a lot watching how those guys conducted themselves," Stevens said. "Winning is the same everywhere. It's the same process. Maybe one day, I'll get there."
Meanwhile, Peter Quenneville, who is committed to Quinnipiac University in the fall of 2013, is the second cousin of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Uncle Joel, of course, won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010. Additionally, Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk is Peter's uncle by marriage. The 5-11, 183-pound right wing had six goals, nine points, a plus-4 rating and three power-play goals in nine playoff games for the Fighting Saints.
Left wing Frank DiChiara, No. 210 on Central Scouting's final list, scored 8:17 into the extra session to give the Fighting Saints the win. DiChiara, who is committed to Yale University in the fall of 2013, led the team with three game-winners and finished with four goals and 12 points in 11 playoff matches.
The top-rated prospect for the Fighting Saints this season was defenseman Michael Downing, who was ranked No. 49 on Central's final list. Downing, a projected second-round pick who is committed to the University of Michigan, had three assists, a plus-6 rating and was a tower of strength along the blue line for his team in 11 games.
Fargo was held to just four goals in three games against Dubuque.
"A lot of pieces came together quick," Stevens said. "The guys started finding chemistry early and every day we wanted to get better in practice. Our coaches challenged us and everyone was held accountable, so when things are like that, guys just want to get better every day and we didn't settle for anything less."
The Saints won the Eastern Conference by sweeping the Muskegon Lumberjacks (3-0) in the first round before defeating the Youngstown Phantoms (3-2) in the best-of-5 conference final series. The victory was especially memorable for head coach Jim Montgomery, who will take over the reins as coach of the University of Denver beginning next season.
"You never forget a championship and this was the fourth of my career … two as a player and two as a coach," Montgomery said. "It's been an unbelievable ride. I can't thank our owners and our players who have been here for the three years and the incredible relationships that we've been able to create.
"I'm happy to be a Saint for life."