The Bismarck Bobcats, Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Traverse City North Stars advanced to the divisional finals of the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Robertson Cup Playoffs with Game 3 victories in their respective semifinals series on Friday night.
Four different players scored for the Ice Dogs in their 4-2 triumph over the Alaska Avalanche in their West Division semis. Forward Will Aide rang up a goal and an assist in the win, and goaltender Joe Phillippi made 23 saves.
With their series sweep over the Avalanche, the Ice Dogs are guaranteed the West Division’s second berth to the five-team Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, which will be held from May 4-9 at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash. The Wenatchee Wild are also guaranteed a berth as tournament hosts.
The Bobcats, thanks in part to one-goal, two-assist efforts from both forwards Jason Fabian, an Air Force Academy recruit (Atlantic Hockey), and Dominic Panetta, downed the Albert Lea Thunder, 6-1, in their Central Division semifinals to win the series, 3-0. Between the pipes, Ryan Faragher made 43 saves.
“We’re pretty excited to be moving on,” said Fabian. “Getting the sweep is really important because we get to sit back and watch while (the Alexandria Blizzard and the Owatonna Express) battle it out to see who we’ll play (in the Central Division playoff finals).”
Goaltender Drew Strandberg turned aside all 27 shots he faced as the North Stars skated to a 2-0 victory and a three-game sweep over the Janesville Jets in their North Division semis. Forwards Dan Radke, a Lake Superior State University recruit (CCHA), and Kellin Ainsworth notched the Traverse City goals.
“It wins us a series, but I don’t want this series to be the one that defines our season,” said Stars head coach Anthony Palumbo. “We’ll take a few hours to enjoy this one, but we’re right back to work tomorrow.”
The Motor City Metal Jackets (North Division) and the Wenatchee Wild (West) have also advanced to the playoff finals in their divisions.
In the South Division, the Topeka RoadRunners took a 2-1 lead over the Springfield Jr. Blues in their semifinals series with a 7-1 triumph. Forward Cole Schneider, a University of Connecticut (Atlantic Hockey) recruit, recorded a hat trick and an assist in the win, and forward Tony Thomas, who has committed to Air Force, picked up four assists. In goal, Topeka’s Eric Rohrkemper made 19 saves.
The Blizzard won Game 3 of their Central Division semis against the Express, 5-2, to stake a 2-games-to-1 lead in their series. Forward Brett Wall, a Lake Superior State University (CCHA) recruit, connected for a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in the win, and goaltender Robert Tadazak stopped 21 shots.