Only eight teams remain in the chase for the NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship as the league enters the next stage of the playoffs, the Division Finals.
All eight teams will be in action Friday and Saturday as they look to take an early advantage in the best of five series.
The winner of each of the four series will be crowned division playoff champions and earn an invitation to the 2017 NAHL Robertson Cup Championship, taking place from May 11-14 at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Sports Center in Duluth, Minnesota.
Central Division Finals (best of 5 series)
#2 Minnesota Wilderness vs. #4 Aberdeen Wings – The series during the regular season could not have been more even as each team won four of the eight games in the season series. The Wings advanced with a series win over #1 Minot thanks to contributions from all sides. Eight players have scored at least a goal in the playoffs to date and four players lead the way with three points apiece. The Wilderness needed a Game 5 win on Monday to advance over the Brookings Blizzard and like the Wings, have gotten contributions from all sides. Wilderness forward Zach Mills is tied for the playoff scoring lead with seven points and defenseman Louis Roehl leads all NAHL blueliners with five points in the playoffs.
Game 1: April 28, Aberdeen @ Wilderness, 7:05pm
Game 2: April 29, Aberdeen @ Wilderness, 7:05pm
Game 3: May 5, Wilderness @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm
Game 4: May 6, Wilderness @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm*
Game 5: May 8, Aberdeen @ Wilderness, 7:05pm*
East Division Finals (best of 5 series)
#1 Aston Rebels vs. #3 New Jersey Titans – The Rebels had just 14 losses (regulation and overtime/shootout) during the regular season and five of those were to New Jersey as the Rebels had the slight edge during the regular season, winning 7 of 12 games. If the opening round of the playoffs is any indication, this series may boil down to goaltending. The Rebels have NAHL MVP and goalie of the year Mareks Mitens at one end and the Titans counter with the hottest goalie in the league right now in Ryan Ferland. Ferland allowed just three goals on 81 shots in their series sweep of Johnstown. Rebels forward Jensen Zerban leads his club with five points in the playoffs, while Todd Goehring leads the Titans with three points.
Game 1: April 28, New Jersey @ Aston, 7:00pm
Game 2: April 29, New Jersey @ Aston, 7:00pm
Game 3: May 5, Aston @ New Jersey, 7:30pm
Game 4: May 6, Aston @ New Jersey, 7:30pm*
Game 5, May 7, New Jersey @ Aston, 7:00pm*
Midwest Division Finals (best of 5 series)
#1 Janesville Jets vs. #2 Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Because of the unique travel schedule that has to take place from Janesville, Wisconsin to Fairbanks, Alaska, there are a number of scenarios that can take place for Games 3-5 depending on how Game 1 and 2 go. What the Jets do know is that if they intend to advance to the Robertson Cup, they will have to win at least one game on Fairbanks ice. The two teams played just four times during the regular season, all of them coming in November, with the Jets winning all four. However, the Ice Dogs are the NAHL’s hottest team, winners of their last 12 straight games. Goaltending will be a big role with rookies manning the nets for both teams. Both Jake Barczewski (Janesville) and Erik Gordon (Fairbanks) put up great numbers all season and in opening playoff round sweeps. Cullen Munson leads the Jets with four points in the playoffs, while Hampus Eriksson is tied for the NAHL playoff scoring lead with seven points for the IceDogs
Game 1: April 28, Fairbanks @ Janesville, 7:00pm
Game 2: April 29, Fairbanks @ Janesville, 7:00pm
Game 3: If Janesville is up 2-0, May 5, Janesville @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 3: If series is tied 1-1, April 30, Fairbanks @ Janesville, 5:00pm
Game 3: If Fairbanks is up 2-0, April 30, Fairbanks @ Janesville, 5:00pm
Game 4: May 5 or 6, Janesville @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm*
Game 5: May 6 or 7, Janesville @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm*
South Division Finals (best of 5 series)
#1 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #3 Corpus Christi IceRays – It will be a good ‘ol fashioned Texas shootout as the Brahmas and IceRays battle for the right to go to Duluth. Before the series has even started, as interesting twist has been included in the mix. Because of other events at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, the entire series will be played in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex with the Brahmas hosting Games 1, 2 and 5 and the IceRays playing their home games during Games 3 and 4 at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney, Texas, which is just about 45 minutes away from the Brahmas home rink. With the IceRays spending the entire week in DFW, travel and fatigue should not be an issue for either team and should make for a great series. Lone Star won seven of the 11 games between the two clubs during the regular season. The IceRays sweep of Shreveport came 9 days ago, so they have had plenty of time to rest and regroup. IceRays goalie Tomas Vomacka could be the key to the series as he was lights out in the opening round. The Brahmas will counter with veteran Max Prawdzik, who allowed just six goals in an opening round sweep of Wichita Falls.
Game 1: April 28, Corpus Christi @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 2: April 29, Corpus Christi @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 3: May 2, Lone Star @ Corpus Christi, 7:15pm**
Game 4: May 3, Lone Star @ Corpus Christi, 7:15pm***
Game 5: May 6, Corpus Christi @ Lone Star, 7:30pm*