Of the four Robertson Cup Playoffs divisional finals series, only the Fairbanks Ice Dogs hold an advantage after the first weekend of play with the other three best-of-five series tied a one game apiece.
The Wenatchee Wild avoided elimination with a 2-1 victory over the Ice Dogs in Game 3 of the West Division finals on Sunday. Third-period goals from forwards DJ Vandercook and Mario Puskarich (game-winner) sparked Wenatchee’s victory, and goaltender Greg Lewis stopped 23 shots to pick up the win.
The series opened with a 4-3 overtime victory by Fairbanks on Friday. Forward John Stampohar connected for the game-winning goal in the extra session, and forward Zach Vierling racked up three assists. Between the pipes, Joe Phillippi made 47 saves.
In Game 2 the next night, the Ice Dogs doubled-up the Wild, 6-3. Vierling again stepped to the forefront offensively with a goal and three assists, and Phillippi continued his solid play between the pipes, stopping 46 shots.
The series shifts to Wenatchee with Game 4 scheduled for Thursday, and Game 5, if necessary, scheduled for Saturday.
In the Central Division finals, the defending Robertson Cup champion Bismarck Bobcats skated to a 6-4 triumph in Game 1 over the Coulee Region Chill. Forward Daniel Zawacki unleashed for two goals, including the game-winner, and three assists in the win, and goaltender Ryan Faragher turned aside 29 shots.
The Chill evened the series up the next night with a 6-3 victory in Game 2. Six Coulee Region players fashioned two-point contests, including David Ripple, who notched the game-winning goal and an assist. Between the pipes, Paul Moberg stopped 44 shots.
Games 3 and 4 of the series are slated for Friday and Saturday in Bismarck, with Game 5, if necessary, scheduled for Monday at Coulee Region.
Goaltender Tom Comunale turned aside all 44 shots he faced as the St. Louis Bandits blanked the Michigan Warriors in Game 1 of the North Division finals on Thursday, 2-0. Forwards Stephen Bopp (game-winner) and Isak Quakenbush lit the lamp for the Bandits.
The next night in Game 2, the Warriors rebounded with a 3-2 victory. Forward Scott Henegar notched two goals in the win, and forward Robert Mantha struck for the game-winning marker. In goal, Robert Tadazak made 26 saves.
The series shifts to Michigan for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Saturday. Game 5, if necessary, will be played in St. Louis on Monday.
In the South Division finals, forward Nate Milam’s overtime goal - his second of the game - lifted the Topeka RoadRunners to a 3-2 Game 1 victory over the Amarillo Bulls on Friday. Netminder Rasmus Tirronen stopped 22 shots to pick up the win in net.
Four third-period goals the next night propelled the Bulls to a 4-3 victory in Game 2 of the series. Forward Cody Freeman connected for the game-winning marker and an assist, and goaltender Nikifor Szczerba made 22 saves.
Games 3 and 4 of the series will be played in Amarillo on Thursday and Friday, with Game 5, if necessary, slated for Monday in Topeka.
View the Robertson Cup Playoffs Bracket here.
View the Robertson Cup Playoffs Format here.