The Bismarck Bobcats and Traverse City North Stars advanced to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament with Game 3 wins in their respective best-of-five divisional finals series of the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Robertson Cup Playoffs on Friday night.
They will join the Wenatchee Wild and Fairbanks Ice Dogs at the five-team tournament, which will be held from May 4-9 at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash.
The winner of the South Division finals between the St. Louis Bandits and Topeka RoadRunners will also advance to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.
In the North Division finals, forwards Tim Opie and Doug Clifford each connected for a goal and an assist as the North Stars completed their three-game sweep over the Motor City Metal Jackets with a 5-2 victory. Goaltender Drew Strandberg made 27 saves in the win.
“It was a pretty good team win," said North Stars head coach Anthony Palumbo. "We got goals from a lot of different places and very good goaltending again.
"We’re absolutely very happy to be on our way to the Robertson Cup. We’re going to enjoy it; it’s a huge victory. But, at the same time, like I reminded the guys after (Friday’s game), we don’t want this to be our biggest win. We don’t want to be happy just to go out there (to Wenatchee). We want to go out there and try to win some more games.”
Three different Bobcats lit the lamp and forward Brett Bower and defenseman Sam Rendle, a Bemidji State University (WCHA) recruit, each connected for a pair of assists as Bismarck skated to a three-game sweep over the Alexandria Blizzard in the Central finals with a 3-1 triumph. In goal, Ryan Faragher, a Dartmouth College (ECAC) recruit, turned aside 31 shots.
In the South finals, the Bandits took a 2-1 series lead over the RoadRunners with a 4-1 victory. Four different players scored for St. Louis, and forward Patrick Sheehan collected two assists, including one on forward Joe Kalisz’s game-winning goal. Between the pipes, Tyler Bruggeman stopped 28 shots.
The Wild won the West Division title with a 7-1 victory in Game 3 of their series with the Ice Dogs. Forward Michael Di Puma notched two goals and two assists in the win, and forward Mark Miller added four assists.