The Topeka RoadRunners and the Alexandria Blizzard secured the final two berths to this week’s Robertson Cup Championship Tournament after decisive Game 5 overtime wins in their respective divisional final playoff series on Sunday.
Randy Swank’s overtime goal – his second of the game – lifted the RoadRunners to a 5-4 win over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the South Division finals. Josh Kamrass recorded two assists in the victory, while goaltender Bryce Merriam made 14 saves.
"I'm so proud of what these guys have acheived," said RoadRunners coach-GM Scott Langer. "We can enjoy this for about a day, but then it's back to work."
The NAHL Organization of the Year, the RoadRunners will make their first-ever trip to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.
"From a business side, you couldn't script a better season," said RoadRunners operations manager Arch Ecker. "On a personal side, it's been an incredible ride and I'm so proud of all we've been able to accomplish."
In the Central Division, David Hines’ OT marker propelled the Blizzard to a 2-1 triumph over the Springfield Jr. Blues in the series finale. Brandon Bahnemann scored the other Blizzard goal, while goaltender Ryan Leets turned aside 29 shots.
“I’m very proud of our guys and the turnaround they made from the start of the season,” said Blizzard coach-GM Brad Willner, whose team began the year with a 3-14-2 record. “They worked hard all year long and made huge strides as players.
“I’m excited for our players, our owners and our fans. There was a buzz around the entire community of Alexandria.”
Willner credits Springfield for a hard-fought series.
"Both teams left everything on the ice, and they made us play a near-perfect game to beat them,” he said. “I think having our players experience the highs and lows of the series will help us this week in St. Louis.”
Each of the three divisional playoff final series was decided in overtime (the St. Louis Bandits bested the Mahoning Valley Phantoms, 5-4, in Game 4 of the North Division finals).
The RoadRunners and the Blizzard will join the Phantoms and the Bandits at the four-team Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, which crowns the NAHL’s playoff champion – USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior A national champion.
The event will be held from April 30-May 4 at Hardee’s Iceplex in Chesterfield, Mo., home of the NAHL’s St. Louis Bandits.
For more information on the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, visit RobertsonCup.com.