The Mahoning Valley Phantoms advanced to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament after their 2-1 victory over the U.S. National Team in the decisive Game 5 of the North Division playoff finals on Saturday night.
Erik Higby and Cole Schneider (game-winner) scored for the Phantoms, who will make their fourth straight trip to the tournament, and goaltender Jordan Tibbett turned aside 50 shots.
“I’m not sure if it felt like 50 saves, but it did feel like a really long game," said Tibbett. "We’re feeling pretty good right now, though.”
“I can’t say enough about Jordan,” said Phantoms head coach Bob Mainhardt. "He was definitely the difference tonight. He was outstanding for us after some unlucky bounces (on Friday, a 3-1 loss in Game 4). There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to be ready for (Saturday) and he exceeded all of my expectations.”
In the Central Division, the Owatonna Express forced a decisive Game 5 with a 2-1 victory over the Bismarck Bobcats. Chris Darnell and John Kruse (game-winner) notched the Express goals, and netminder Fredrik Bergman made 32 saves.
Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday, April 26, in Bismarck (5 p.m. CST).
The Phantoms, along with the South Division champion St. Louis Bandits, West Division champion Wenatchee Wild, the host North Iowa Outlaws and the winner of the Bismarck-Owatonna series, will compete in the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, which will be held April 28-May 3 at the North Iowa Ice Arena in Mason City, Iowa.
The Robertson Cup crowns the NAHL’s playoff champion, which also represents USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior A national champion.
For more information on the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, visit RobertsonCup.com.