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NAHL Weekend Playoff Preview

April 17, 2015
The 2015 NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs continue this weekend and the league is in a rare situation where all five games on Friday have the potential to be the deciding games of their respective Semi-Final series.
 
Three of the eight spots in the Division Finals have already been claimed with the Austin Bruins and Minot Minotauros advancing to the Central Finals and the Topeka RoadRunners advancing to the South Finals.  Austin and Minot will take this weekend off before beginning their series next Friday, while Topeka won both Games 3 and 4 in Wichita Falls earlier this week to advance.
 
All of the action this weekend can be watched live on FASTHockey
 
Click here for updated scores and stats
 
Midwest Division Semi-Finals (Fairbanks leads series, 2-0)
#1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. #4 MN Magicians
Game 1: MN Magicians 4 at Fairbanks 5 (OT)
Game 2: MN Magicians 0 at Fairbanks 4
Game 3: 4/17 - Fairbanks at MN Magicians, 7:15pm
Game 4: 4/18 - Fairbanks at MN Magicians, 7:05pm*
Game 5: 4/19 – Fairbanks at MN Magicians, 7:00pm*
*if necessary
 
The Magicians almost stole Game 1 in Fairbanks, but the Ice Dogs prevailed and then cruised to a Game 2 shutout to take a 2-0 series lead. Magicians goalie Vaughan Ahrens has been busy in the series, facing 115 shots in the first two games. Meanwhile, Fairbanks goalies have faced just 61 shots in the two games.  That disparity has to turn around for the Magicians in Game 3 if they want to extend the series. Fairbanks showed their offensive balance in the first two games with seven different players recording goals. 
 
Midwest Division Semi-Finals (Coulee Region leads series, 2-0)
#2 MN Wilderness vs. #3 Coulee Region Chill
Game 1: C. Region 4 at MN Wilderness 2
Game 2: C. Region 3 at MN Wilderness 1
Game 3: 4/17 - MN Wilderness at C. Region 7:00pm
Game 4: 4/18 - MN Wilderness at C. Region 7:00pm*
Game 5: 4/20 - C. Region at MN Wilderness 7:05pm*
*if necessary
 
The Chill are in a great spot in the series, having won the first two games on the road. They say goaltending can win or lose you a Championship and that has played out in this series and Chill netminder Adam Carlson has been the main difference in the first two games. Carlson faced 60 shots in the first two games and only allowed three goals. Meanwhile, Chill forward Adam Lovick stepped up to the plate with five points in the first two games. The Wilderness are going to have to find a way to be more efficient in their scoring and get a good performance in goal as both Brock Kautz and Ryan Anderson allowed six goals in the first two games on just 39 combined shots. The Wilderness are also 0 for 4 on the power play through the first two games.
 
North Division Semi-Finals (Janesville leads series, 2-0)
#1 Janesville Jets vs. #4 Michigan Warriors
Game 1: Michigan 1 at Janesville 8
Game 2: Michigan 2 at Janesville 6
Game 3: 4/17 – Janesville at Michigan, 7pm
Game 4: 4/18 – Janesville at Michigan, 7pm*
Game 5: 4/20 – Michigan at Janesville, 7pm*
*if necessary
 
First and foremost, the Warriors have to take things one period at a time because that is literally what has done the damage to date in the series. In Game 1, the Jets scored six times in the 3rd period to break a close game open and in Game 2, it was five goals in the 2nd period to break another close game open. That’s why the Jets are so dangerous because their scoring comes in spurts and they do not allow much on their goal. Jets goalie Matt Jurusik saw 53 shots in the first two games and stopped 50 of them. Meanwhile, the Warriors have to stay out of the penalty box as the Jets power play is 7 for 11 in the series.
 
North Division Semi-Finals (Soo leads series, 2-0)
#2 Keystone Ice Miners vs. #3 Soo Eagles
Game 1: Soo 6 at Keystone 1
Game 2: Soo 1 at Keystone 0 (OT)
Game 3: 4/17 - Keystone at Soo, 7:30pm
Game 4: 4/18 - Keystone at Soo 7:30pm*
Game 5: 4/20 - Soo at Keystone 7:30pm*
*if necessary
 
Like the Coulee Region/MN Wilderness series, the Soo vs. Keystone series was dictated by goaltending in the first two games. Soo goalie Chad Catt was the difference in the first two games, showing his veteran experience. Catt faced 67 shots in the first two games and allowed just a single goal. The Eagles also have had very balanced scoring with six players scoring the seven goals through the first two games.  The Ice Miners have to find a way to solve Catt in Game 3. Both teams have yet to score a power play goal in the series. The biggest question for Keystone may be who starts in goal in Game 3. Nick Kossoff played well in the Game 2 overtime, while Alex Blankenburg gave up three goals in the first 14 minutes in Game 1 and was pulled.
 
South Division Semi-Finals (Lone Star leads series, 2-0)
#1 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #5 Wenatchee Wild
Game 1: Wenatchee 1 at Lone Star 2 (2OT)
Game 2: Wenatchee 1 at Lone Star 2
Game 3: 4/17 – Lone Star at Wenatchee, 7:30pm
Game 4: 4/18 – Lone Star at Wenatchee, 7:30pm*
Game 5: 4/21 – Wenatchee at Lone Star, 7:30pm*
*if necessary
 
With all the high-powered offense Lone Star boasts, the difference in the series thus far has been goalie Jake Kupsky. Through the first two games, Lupsky has allowed just two goals on 65 shots. The usual suspects have done the majority of scoring for the Brahmas, although they have only scored four times in the two wins. Wenatchee’s goalies have played well in the series and allowed just four goals, but it hasn’t been enough for an offense that struggled in the opening two games of the series. Wenatchee forward Brendan Harris had points in the first two games and Wild defenseman Chris Jones leads the league in shots on goal during the playoffs with 23.
 
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