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Pawloski helps Indiana Ice to Clark Cup championship

by Mike G. Morreale

The Indiana Ice celebrated their second Clark Cup championship of the United States Hockey League on Tuesday following a 3-2 victory in Game 5 against the Waterloo Black Hawks before 3,500 at Young Arena in Waterloo, Iowa.

Alex Talcott, who is eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, and Washington Capitals prospect Brian Pinho scored goals in the third period when Indiana rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win the best-of-5 series. The Ice won their first league title since 2008-09. Waterloo was seeking its first championship since the 2003-04 campaign.

Indiana goalie Jason Pawloski, who was No. 34 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of the top North American goalies eligible for the 2014 draft but failed to make the final list in April, made 33 saves to notch his eighth win of the playoffs. He finished with a 1.80 goals-against average and .928 save percentage on the way to being named most valuable player of the 2014 Clark Cup Playoffs.

Indiana defensemen Joshua Jacobs and Ryan Mantha, who will both attend the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto next week, played big roles in the championship. Jacobs, No. 43 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters, had three goals, five points and a plus-3 rating in 12 playoff games. He is committed to the Michigan State University for 2014-15.

Mantha, the nephew of former NHL player Mo Mantha, had two assists and generated 15 shots on goal in 10 postseason games. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound University of North Dakota recruit is No. 149 on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters.

Center Scott Conway, also eligible for the 2014 draft and committed to Penn State University, led the Ice with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 12 playoff games.

The Black Hawks were led by University of Massachusetts-bound defenseman Brandon Montour, who was named the USHL top defenseman and player of the year. Montour, No. 92 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American players eligible for the draft, had 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) and a plus-8 rating in 12 playoff games.

Also playing a role for Waterloo among those top 2014 draft-eligible prospects were defenseman Mark Friedman, No. 142 on Central Scouting's final list, and forward Tyler Sheehy, who was ranked No. 200 on the April list.

Waterloo goalie Cal Petersen, selected in the 2013 fifth round (No. 129) by the Buffalo Sabres and committed to the University of Notre Dame in the fall, made 41 saves in Game 5. In 12 playoff games, Petersen won eight and finished with a 2.37 GAA and .928 save percentage.

In addition to 2013 draftees Pinho and Petersen, there were three other players competing in the Clark Cup drafted by NHL teams: Indiana forwards Aidan Muir (Edmonton Oilers, 2013) and Sam Kurker (St. Louis Blues, 2012) and Waterloo forward Zach Sanford (Washington Capitals, 2013).

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