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Fairbanks, Wichita Falls sweep their way to Championship Game

May 13, 2016

Goalies Gavin Nieto (top) and Justin Kapelmaster (bottom) have been big reasons behind the success at the Robertson Cup.

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Wichita Falls Wildcats swept their respective NAHL Robertson Cup Semi-Final Series on Friday, advancing the two clubs to the Robertson Cup National Championship Game, which will take place on Sunday, May 15th at 1pm at Braemar Arena in Edina, Minnesota.
 
 
Robertson Cup Semi-Final #1, Game 2: Aston Rebels 0 vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs 3 (Fairbanks wins series, 2-0) – Both teams were cautious to start Game 2 with the Rebels facing elimination.  About midway through the period, the Ice Dogs scored the game’s first goal as Reggie Lutz scored his 3rd goal in the last two games as his original pass was blocked, but he collected the rebound and fired a backhanded shot past Darion Hanson for a 1-0 lead. For the majority of the 2nd period, both goalies came up with some big saves with both Hanson and Gavin Nieto keeping the game close. Late in the period, it was Reggie Lutz again for his second goal of the game and 4th of the Semi-Finals as he took the puck from the left win, circled around the back of the net and tucked home a wrap-around shot past Hanson to push the Ice Dogs lead to 2-0. In the 3rd period, the Rebels tried desperately to get something past Nieto, but couldn’t. With time ticking down and down two goals, Rebels coach Joe Coombs pulled goalie Darion Hanson with just under three minutes to go. The Ice Dogs wasted no time in cementing the win as Tyler Tomberlin scored on the empty-net to make the final, 3-0. Nieto stopped all 25 shots that came his way for the shutout. Nieto has allowed just three goals in his last three playoff games. Hanson took the loss as the Rebels season came to a close with 25 saves. Fairbanks advances to their fourth Robertson Cup Championship game in the last the last seven years. Boxscore
 
Robertson Cup Semi-Final #2, Game 2: Bismarck 2 vs. Wichita Falls 5 (Wichita Falls wins best of 3 series, 2-0) – The game got off to another fast start for the second night in a row. First Bismarck goalie Hunter Shepard made a sprawling stick save just seconds into the game with the puck sitting on the goal line.  The following face-off, the Bobcats got the puck deep in the Wildcats zone, eventually leading to a pass in the high slot to Willie Brown, who wristed a shot past a screened Justin Kapelmaster to put Bismarck ahead 1-0 less than two minutes into the game. The Wildcats were quick to tie the game as Andre Pison let a shot go through a screen the beat Shepard over the shoulder. The Wildcats grabbed their first lead of the night on an odd-man rush as Jonathan Lazarus found Michael Rounds on the back door to put the Wildcats ahead 2-1. The Wildcats wasted no time in the 2nd period taking a two-goal lead as Austin Albrecht slipped one through Sheppard’s legs on the power play to make it 3-1.  Five minutes later, the Bobcats answered back with a power play goal of their own as wide open Alex Strand got a pass from behind the net as put a shot past a helpless Kapelmaster to make it 3-2. With five minutes to go in the 2nd period, the Wildcats went back up by two goals thanks to a goal from Nick Rosa, who poked home a loose puck in front to make the score 4-2. The 3rd period was very physical, but each Bobcats chance was shut down by Kapelmaster.  Nikita Litviak added an empty-net goal to secure the 5-2 win and a spot in the Robertson Cup Championship Game against Fairbanks on Sunday at 1pm.  Kapelmaster made 24 saves in the win, while Sheppard concluded a brilliant junior career with 40 saves in the loss. Boxscore
 
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