The U.S. National Team, Bismarck Bobcats, Owatonna Express and Wenatchee Wild all advanced to their respective Robertson Cup Playoffs divisional finals series with wins in their best-of-five semifinals series on Saturday night.
The U.S. team downed the Alpena IceDiggers, 4-1, winning their North Division series, 3 games to 1. Michael Mersch tallied two goals for Team USA in the victory, including the game-winner, and goaltender Brandon Maxwell turned aside 20 shots.
The Bobcats, the Central Division regular-season champions, knocked off the Alexandria Blizzard, 3 games to 1, with a 4-1 triumph in Game 4. Jordan Singer connected for the game-winning goal and an assist for the Bobcats, and netminder Matt Grogan made 24 saves.
Bismarck will play Owatonna in the divisional finals, as the Express won its series over the North Iowa Outlaws, 3 games to 1. Cory Thorson and Michael Palmiscno (game-winner) scored for the Express in its 2-1 win in Game 4, and goaltender Fredrik Bergman stopped 36 shots.
"It was a very hard-fought series; every game was close," said Express head coach Pat Cullen. "We feel very fortunate to be moving on, and how our reward is to take on Bismarck, which will be another difficult task."
In the West, the Wenatchee Wild advanced after its 6-3 win over the Alaska Avalanche, taking the series 3 games to 1. Nick Nagel potted a pair of goals in the victory, and Tanner Mort added two assists. In goal, Mathieu Dugas made 28 saves.
"I give a lot of credit to the Alaska players for making this a very difficult series,” said Wild associate head coach Ryan McKelvie.
“We’re now looking forward to what should be an extremely exciting series with Fairbanks. We’ve had great games with them all season and know it’ll be a battle. It should be fun."
In the other North semis, the Traverse City North Stars forced a Game 5 with the Mahoning Valley Phantoms after their 4-2 victory on Saturday. In the South, the Wichita Falls Wildcats and the Topeka RoadRunners will play a Game 5 after the Wildcats’ 4-1 victory.