NAHL Weekend Preview
It’s Christmas for the NAHL fan in May as the 2021 NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs begin this weekend with 16 teams vying for the Robertson Cup.
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. The Division Semi-Finals may begin no earlier than Thursday, May 20, 2021 and must conclude no later than Monday, May 31, 2021. The Club seeded higher in each division semifinal series has the right to host up to three games and the Club seeded lower in each division semifinal series must be able to host at least two games.
The four eventual divisional playoff winners will meet for the 2021 Robertson Cup Championship, which is scheduled to be held at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, MN, from June 18-22.
It was a huge week for commitment news as six more NCAA Division commitments were announced this past week. That brings bringing the current season total to 320 players (including a new record of 278 Division I commitments) who are playing in the league and are committed to playing NCAA hockey in 2020-21.
In the Central Division, the Division Semi-Finals begin with Minot in Aberdeen and the Wilderness in Bismarck. On paper, the Wings should be able to handle the Minotauros, which included a series sweep last weekend by a combined 14-2 score. Minot enters the weekend on a four-game slide, while Aberdeen has won 10 straight. However, Minot did upset the Wings back in 2018 when Aberdeen was the #1 seed and Minot was the #4 seed. Meanwhile, the Bobcats face a red-hot Wilderness team that has won three in a row, which included a sweep of Bismack last weekend in Cloquet.
In the East, things got started early with Game 1 of the Division Semi-Finals between Maine and New Jersey on Thursday. In a goaltender’s duel, Maine came out on top 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Stefan Owens. The Johnstown Tomahawks enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak as they begin their series against the Maryland Black Bears, who are making their Robertson Cup Playoff debut. The Tomahawks went 8-3-2 against the Black Bears during the regular season, with five games going to overtime and nine of the 13 meetings being decided by one goal.
In the Midwest, the regular season champion Janesville Jets host the Kenai River Brown Bears for the first two games. This series could be much closer than people think despite the fact that the Jets finished 20 points head of the Brown Bears. Each team won five games in the 10 games played against one other during the regular season. In the other series, the Magicians make the trek up to Fairbanks for the opening of the other series. Like the other series, both the Magicians and Fairbanks each won five games against one another in the 10 games played during the regular season.
In the South, the Lone Star Brahmas finished the season strong and face a tough task with the #3 seed Wichita Falls Warriors, who won 30 games during the regular season. During the regular season, the 10-game series was dead even with each club winning five games. The other series has the South champion Shreveport Mudbugs hosting the Amarillo Bulls. The Bulls and the Mudbugs are very familiar with one another, having played 14 times during the regular season with Shreveport winning 11 of those.
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Central Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Aberdeen Wings vs. #4 Minot Minotauros
Game 1: Friday, May 21 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm
Game 2: Saturday, May 22 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm
Game 3: Thursday, May 27 @ Minot, 7:05pm
Game 4: Friday, May 28 @ Minot, 7:05pm*
Game 5: Sunday, May 30 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm*
#2 Bismarck Bobcats vs. #3 Minnesota Wilderness
Game 1: Friday, May 21 @ Bismarck, 7:15pm
Game 2: Saturday, May 22 @ Bismarck, 7:15pm
Game 3: Tuesday, May 25 @ Minnesota, 7:15pm
Game 4: Wednesday, May 26 @ Minnesota, 7:15pm*
Game 5: Saturday, May 29 @ Bismarck, 7:15pm*
East Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Johnstown Tomahawks vs. #4 Maryland Black Bears
Game 1: Friday, May 21 @ Johnstown, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, May 22 @ Johnstown, 7:00pm
Game 3: Wednesday, May 26 @ Maryland, 6:30pm
Game 4: Thursday, May 27 @ Maryland, 6:30pm*
Game 5: Saturday, May 29 @ Johnstown, 7:00pm*
#2 Maine Nordiques vs. #3 New Jersey Titans (Maine leads series, 1-0)
Game 1: New Jersey 0 @ Maine 1
Game 2: Saturday, May 21 @ Maine, 7:00pm
Game 3: Thursday, May 27 @ New Jersey, 7:00pm
Game 4: Friday, May 28 @ New Jersey, 7:00pm*
Game 5: Sunday, May 30 @ Maine, 7:00pm*
Midwest Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Janesville Jets vs. #4 Kenai River Brown Bears
Game 1: Friday, May 21 @ Janesville, 7:05pm
Game 2: Saturday, May 22 @ Janesville, 7:05pm
Game 3: Friday, May 28 @ Kenai River, 7:00pm (Super Rink, Blaine, MN)
Game 4: Saturday, May 29 @ Kenai River, 7:00pm* (Super Rink, Blaine, MN)
Game 5: Monday, May 31 @ Janesville, 5:00pm*
#2 Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. #3 Minnesota Magicians
Game 1: Friday, May 21 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, May 22 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 3: If Fairbanks is up 2-0, Saturday, May 29 @ Minnesota, 7:00pm
Game 3: If series is tied 1-1 or if Magicians are up 2-0, Sunday, May 23 @ Fairbanks, 5:00pm
Game 4: Sunday, May 30 @ Minnesota, 7,00pm*
Game 5: Monday, May 31 @ Minnesota, 6:00pm*
South Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Shreveport Mudbugs vs. #4 Amarillo Bulls
Game 1: Friday, May 21 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 2: Saturday, May 22 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 3: Thursday, May 27 @ Amarillo, 7:05pm
Game 4: Friday, May 28 @ Amarillo, 7:05pm*
Game 5: Sunday, May 30 @Shreveport, 7:11pm*
#2 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #3 Wichita Falls Warriors
Game 1: Friday, May 21 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, May 22 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 3: Saturday, May 29 @ Wichita Falls, 4:05pm
Game 4: Sunday, May 30 @ Wichita Falls, 4:05pm*
Game 5: Monday, May 31 @ Lone Star, 7:00pm*