The Wenatchee Wild, the North American Hockey League (NAHL) regular-season champions, advanced to the West Division finals of the Robertson Cup Playoffs after its 3-0 series sweep over the Kenai River Brown Bears in the divisional semifinals.
In Game 3 of the series on Sunday, forward Nolan Youngmun struck for a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and defenseman Kyle Brodie, a Bemidji State University (WCHA) recruit, chipped in two assists as the Wild skated to a 3-1 victory. In goal for the Wild, Brendan Jensen made 19 saves.
“Even though we won the series, 3-0, I didn’t think our team performed as well as it should have for a playoff series,” said Wild associate head coach Ryan McKelvie. “As a group, our intensity and energy needs to pick up for the next series. We need every player in the lineup to be sharp, focused and ready to play every game if we want to be champions.”
Forward Ryan Timar, an Air Force Academy (Atlantic Hockey) recruit who was acquired from the Alpena IceDiggers at the NAHL trade deadline, led the Wild’s offensive charge against Kenai River with three goals and an assist.
“Ryan’s been a big addition to our team,” said McKelvie. “We went after him because of his ability and character and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s proved he can play and he performs best in the big games and when the game is on the line.”
The winners of the NAHL’s eight divisional semifinals will match up in the best-of-five divisional finals, with the division playoff champion advancing to the five-team Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, which will be held from May 4-9 at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash.
As hosts, the Wild receives an automatic bid to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament. The winner of the other West Division semifinals series between the Alaska Avalanche and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs will also receive a bid to the tournament (Fairbanks leads the series, 2-0).
“The extra time off before our next game doesn’t concern our team,” said McKelvie. “I think if we use it properly, we can use it to our advantage and come back rested, energized and refocused on the task at hand.”
View the complete first-round playoff schedule here.
For more information on the Robertson Cup, visit RobertsonCup.com.