The Mahoning Valley Phantoms advanced to the championship game of the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament after their 5-2 win over the Topeka RoadRunners today in the semifinal game at the Hardee’s IcePlex in Chesterfield, Mo.
The Phantoms will face off against the St. Louis Bandits, who received a bye to the championship game after finishing with the most points in the tournament’s three-game round robin, for the Robertson Cup tomorrow at 5 p.m. CST.
The Robertson Cup is awarded to the playoff champion of the NAHL, USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior A national champion.
Kurt Washnock (game-winner) and Derek Graham each connected for two goals in Mahoning Valley’s win over Topeka, while Alden Hirschfeld added two assists. Between the pipes, goaltender Garrett Bartus made 27 saves.
“This is the type of effort we expected,” said Phantoms coach-GM Bob Mainhardt. “We believed in this team all year. When we put it on the line like we did this weekend, good thing happen, and I couldn’t be more proud of this group right now.”
This marks the second straight year that the Bandits and the Phantoms will play for the Robertson Cup Championship. St. Louis won last year’s finale, 8-4, in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“We know we have some unfinished business with St. Louis,” said Mainhardt. “We’ve been counting the days since last year, and both teams held up their end of the bargain, so it’s going to be a heck of a final.”
The oldest junior hockey trophy in the United States, the Robertson Cup is named in honor of Chuck Robertson, a pioneer of junior hockey in the NAHL and youth hockey in the state of Michigan. Chuck Robertson was the owner of the Paddock Pools Saints when they won a record seven straight NAHL championships from 1976-83.