Division Finals Update
April 21, 2014
After one weekend of the Division Finals in NAHL Robertson Cup Playoff action it is safe to say that all four #1 seeds and regular season division champions are feeling the heat after the opening two games. It shapes up for quite the week and weekend coming up with many scenarios still undecided.
As a reminder, the four winners of the Divisional Finals round will advance to the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals, which will have a new look and format this season. The four remaining divisional winners shall be seeded 1-4 based upon their finish in the NAHL regular-season standings. The Club seeded first will compete in a best-of-three series with the fourth seeded Club. The Club seeded second will compete in a best-of-three-series against the Club seeded third. The Robertson Cup Semi-Finals may begin no earlier than Thursday, May 1, 2014 and must conclude no later than Sunday, May 4, 2014.
Here is a look at the series updates:
#1 Austin Bruins vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats (Best of five series tied, 1-1) – The series has gone the way of what happened the last two years, with the Bobcats earning a split of the first two games in Austin. Now, the Bruins task will be to win at least one of the next two in Bismarck to either claim the series on Bismarck’s ice, or return home for a 5th and decisive game. In the past two years, it has been the Bobcats that have returned home for games 3 and 4 and won. The first two games were about as exciting as it gets, with both being decided in overtime. Sam Kauppila was the hero on Friday night for the Bruins, as they erased a 3-0 deficit to ultimately win 5-4. On Saturday, the roles were reversed as it was the Bruins win a lead until the 3rd period when the Bobcats tied it up to force overtime, where Stanislav Dzakhov tied the series with a goal. Bobcats forward Evan Giesler leads the NAHL in playoff scoring with nine points and seven goals.
#1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. #3 Wenatchee Wild (Best of five series tied, 1-1) – Needless to say Game 3 on Monday is pivotal for both clubs after the two teams split the first two games. If the Wild, who shutout Fairbanks 4-0 in Game 1 on Friday, can take Game 3 on Monday, they would head back to Wenatchee this weekend with two home games to pick up the final win. That is why Monday night is very important for Fairbanks. Heading to Wenatchee down 2-1 in the series would be a very tough proposition, so winning on Monday would mean the Ice Dogs would have two games in Wenatchee to pick up the final win. The Wild have had leads in both games thus far and have gotten a very good performance in goal from rookie Chase Perry, who has stopped 51 of 55 shots in the series, including his 3rd shutout of the playoffs this past Friday. Fairbanks defenseman Wyatt Ege had the game-winner on Saturday and leads the Ice Dogs with four goals in the playoffs.
#1 Port Huron Fighting Falcons vs. #2 Michigan Warriors (Michigan leads best of five series, 2-0) – Quick, who is the top goaltender in the NAHL playoffs? If you answered Michigan goalie Trevor Gorsuch, you would be correct. Gorsuch is the main reason that the Warriors are just a win away from advancing to the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals, thanks to his perfect 5-0 record and sparkling 97.2% save percentage. That included back-to-back shutouts on Friday and Saturday over the Fighting Falcons, in which Gorusch stopped all 83 shots that came his way, including 55 saves in a 1-0 triple overtime win on Friday. Dating back to the Game 3 win over Janesville on April 11th, Gorsuch has a shutout streak of 169 minutes and 49 seconds heading into Game 3 at home against Port Huron. Colin Larkin scored the triple-OT winner on Friday and assisted on the game-winner on Saturday.
#1 Amarillo Bulls vs. #2 Topeka RoadRunners (Topeka leads best of five series, 2-0) – Just one more win separates Topeka from ensuring that there will be a different Robertson Cup Champion in 2014. The RoadRunners entered the series with a seven game winning streak against the Bulls, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that they had success again in the first two games. What is a surprise is that the Bulls offense, which ranked #2 in the NAHL during the regular season, has yet to yield any big results in the first two games. The Bulls have just three goals in the two games, thanks in large part due to the fact that the RoadRunners outshot the Bulls in both contests and the fact that Topeka goalie PJ Bridges has picked up right where he left off in the regular season. Bridges is 5-0 in the playoffs and ranks 2nd in goals against average in the post-season with a 1.31 mark and a 94.9% save percentage. Forward Tyler Poulsen, who is tied for 2nd in NAHL playoff scoring, had three points in the first two games on the Amarillo series. Roman Ammirato had both goals in the Bulls 3-2 loss on Friday.