NAHL Weekend Preview: Division Finals
April 27, 2018
Eight teams remain alive in the chase for the 2018 Robertson Cup National Championship and by the latest on Monday night, May 7th we will know the four teams that are headed to the Robertson Cup National Championship.
As a reminder, the Division Finals this weekend and next are a best of five series. The first team to win three games in a series will advance to the next round.
The 2018 NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship will feature the four divisional playoff winners and will take place from May 11-14 at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minnesota. Clubs will be seeded 1-4 based upon their finish in the NAHL regular-season standings.
The game schedule for the Robertson Cup will be as follows: The #1 Seed will face the #4 seed in a best of three series. The #2 seed will face the #3 seed in a best of three series. The two series winners will advance on to a one game playoff to determine the Robertson Cup Champion.
Friday, May 11: Game 1's, 4:30pm and 7:30pm
Saturday, May 12: Game 2's, 4:30pm and 7:30pm
Sunday, May 13: Game 3's (*if necessary), 3pm and 6pm
Monday, May 14: Robertson Cup National Championship Game, 7pm
Central Division Finals, #2 Austin Bruins vs. #4 Minot Minotauros
Game 1: Friday, April 27 @ Austin, 7:05pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 28 @ Austin, 7:05pm
Game 3: Friday, May 4 @ Minot, 7:35pm
Game 4: Saturday, May 5 @ Minot, 7:35pm*
Game 5: Monday, May 7 @ Austin, 7:05pm*
The Minotauros are this year’s Cinderella story and look to did what Aberdeen did last year, which is advance to the Robertson Cup as the #4 seed. The Bruins will have other plans as they look to get back to the Robertson Cup for the first time since 2015. Austin held the advantage in the season series, winning five of the eight games. The Minotauros swept the Bruins in mid-March in Minot during the final regular season series between the two teams.
East Division Finals, #1 Philadelphia Rebels vs. #3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (Knights lead series, 1-0)
Game 1: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4 @ Philadelphia 1
Game 2: Saturday, April 28 @ Philadelphia, 7:05pm
Game 3: Monday, April 30 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 5:00pm
Game 4: Thursday, May 3 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 6:00pm*
Game 5: Friday, May 4 @ Philadelphia, 7:05pm*
Thanks to a 4-1 win on Thursday night in Game 1, the Knights not only have the edge in the series against the Rebels, but have now won three straight playoff games and allowed just three goals in that span. That is thanks in large part to goalie Christian Stoever who has stopped 85 of the 87 shots he has seen in those three games. Despite the Game 1 loss, the Rebels did win eight of the 12 regular season games against the Knights and then Rebels also came back from a Game 1 loss in their last season against the Northeast Generals to win the series.
Midwest Division Finals, #1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. #2 Janesville Jets
Game 1: Friday, April 27 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 28 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 3: If Fairbanks is up 2-0, Friday, May 4 @ Janesville, 7:00pm
Game 3: If series is tied 1-1 or Janesville is up 2-0, Sunday, April 29 @ Fairbanks, 5:00pm
Game 4: May 4 or 5 @ Janesville, 7:00pm*
Game 5: May 5 or 6 @ Janesville, 5:00 or 7:00pm*
The Midwest Division Finals are a rematch of last season, only with the tables turned with Fairbanks having home ice instead of Janesville. The Ice Dogs were dominant in the regular season against the Jets, winning five of the six games and taking 11 of a possible 12 points in the series. Both the Jets and the Ice Dogs were two of the three teams who swept their opening series, so regardless of who loses on Friday night in Game 1, it will be their first loss of the 2018 playoffs.
South Division Finals, #1 Shreveport Mudbugs vs. #2 Lone Star Brahmas
Game 1: Friday, April 27 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 28 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 3: Friday, May 4 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 4: Saturday, May 5 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm*
Game 5: Sunday, May 6 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm*
It is very likely that the series between the Lone Star Brahmas and Shreveport Mudbugs will be a low scoring one. Six of the eight games during the regular season were a shutout by one of the teams and the Brahmas held the season edge with five wins in the eight contests. With the Brahmas and goalie Mitchell Gibson playing their best hockey of the season, which includes a 17-0-1 record in their last 18 games, the defending champs will be an extremely tough out for the Mudbugs. The last time a team won back-to-back Robertson Cup titles was the St. Louis Bandits in 2008 and 2009.