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NAHL Weekend Preview: Division Semi-Finals

April 13, 2018
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For any hockey player or fan, and that means the playoffs. With that said, 16 teams embark on the quest this weekend for the Robertson Cup, which is annually awarded to the National Champion of the North American Hockey League.
This weekend marks the beginning of the Divisional Semi-Finals. The Club seeded first in each division will compete in a best-of-five series with the fourth seeded Club in the same division. The Club seeded second in each division will compete in a best-of-five-series against the Club seeded third in the same division. Round 1 of the playoffs may begin no earlier than Thursday, April 12, 2018 and must conclude no later than Monday, April 23, 2018. The Club seeded higher in each division semifinal series has the right to host up to three games in Round 1, and the Club seeded lower in each division semifinal series must be able to host at least two games.
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Central Division Semi-Finals (best of 5) 
#1 Aberdeen Wings vs. #4 Minot Minotauros
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Minot, 7:35pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Minot, 7:35pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm*
These two teams played last weekend in their final regular season games in Minot and split the series. The Wings won the season series between the two clubs, winning 8 of the 12 games during the regular season. The teams also faced one another in the Division Semi-Finals last year, with the roles reversed where Minot was the #1 seed and Aberdeen was the #4 seed. Aberdeen beat the Minotauros and ended up making the Robertson Cup Championship.
#2 Austin Bruins vs. #3 Minnesota Wilderness
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Austin, 7:05pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Austin, 7:05pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Wilderness, 7:05pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Wilderness, 7:05pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Austin, 7:05pm*
This series is a rematch of the Robertson Cup Championship series from 2015, when the Wilderness beat the Bruins 2 games to 0 to win the Robertson Cup. The Wilderness won the season series, winning five of the eight games in the season series. Both teams also come into the series on winning streaks as the Wilderness are 7-0-1 in their last eight games, while the Bruins have won four in a row.
East Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Philadelphia Rebels vs. #4 Northeast Generals
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Philadelphia, 7:05pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Aberdeen, 7:05pm
Game 3: Wednesday, April 18 @ Northeast, 7:00pm
Game 4: Thursday, April 19 @ Northeast, 7:00pm*
Game 5: Saturday, April 21 @ Philadelphia, 7:05pm*
The Rebels are looking to win the East Division playoff title for a third straight year and also make a third straight appearance to the Robertson Cup Championship as they take on the Generals. The Rebels won 10 of the 16 match-ups between the two clubs this season and enter the playoffs with a 4-0-1 mark in their last five games. The Generals are making their first ever appearance in the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
#2 New Jersey Titans vs. #3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Game 1: Saturday, April 14 @ New Jersey, 7:00pm
Game 2: Sunday, April 15 @ New Jersey, 5:00pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 5:00pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 6:00pm*
Game 5: Sunday, April 22 @ New Jersey, 5:00pm*
New Jersey is enjoying home ice advantage in the opening round thanks to finishing one point ahead of the Knights in the regular season standings. However, it was the Knights who claimed the regular season series against the Titans, winning 7 of the 12 games in the season series. 
Midwest Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. #4 Minnesota Magicians
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 3: If Fairbanks is up 2-0, Saturday, April 20 @ Minnesota, 7:00pm
Game 3: If series is tied 1-1 or Minnesota is up 2-0, Sunday, April 15 @ Fairbanks, 5:00pm
Game 4: April 20 or 21 @ Minnesota, 7:00pm*
Game 5: April 21 or 22 @ Minnesota, 7:00pm*
The league’s best team in the regular season, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, will host the Minnesota Magicians for at least the first two games of the Division Semi-Finals. The Ice Dogs, who won 45 games and had 97 points during the regular season, are looking to claim their fourth Robertson Cup title in the last 8 years. The Ice Dogs won 3 of the 5 games during the regular season. The Magicians will have one of the hottest goalies in the league, Isaiah Saville, starting in goal.
#2 Janesville Jets vs. #3 Springfield Jr. Blues
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Janesville, 7:00pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Janesville, 7:00pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Springfield, 7:05pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Springfield, 6:05pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Janesville, 6:00pm*
The Jets are looking to continue their regular season success they had against the Jr. Blues. Janesville won 8 of the 12 games and boasts the league’s leading scorer in Jakov Novak. However, the Jr. Blues are one of the league’s hottest teams, having won 8 straight games coming into the playoffs.
South Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Shreveport Mudbugs vs. #4 Corpus Christi IceRays
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 3: Thursday, April 19 @ Corpus Christi, 7:05pm
Game 4: Friday, April 20 @ Corpus Christi, 6:30pm*
Game 5: Sunday, April 22 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm*
The IceRays enter the post-season with some experience under their belts. They were just an overtime goal away in Game 5 in the South Finals from advancing to the Robertson Cup Championship. On their way to the South Finals last season, they beat the Mudbugs in the Division Semi-Finals, so the Mudbugs will be looking for revenue in addition to their first playoff series win. The season series was even with each team winning 6 of the 12 games.
#2 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #3 Odessa Jackalopes
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Odessa, 7:11pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Odessa, 7:11pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Lone Star, 7:00pm*
The defending champion Brahmas open up their title defense playing their best hockey of the season, as they have gone 14-0-1 in their last 15 games. The Brahmas also won 7 of the 8 games they played against the Jackalopes during the regular season. Odessa comes into the series on a three-game winning streak.
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