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NAHL Weekend Preview

May 3, 2024

The Robertson Cup Division Finals begin tonight as the final eight teams go into another battle on their path to the NAHL’s greatest prize.

It’s been a huge recent run of NCAA commitments as the NAHL now has 280 commitments with 237 of them being Division I commits.

While the players remaining may have a commitment on their mind, the primary focus is getting two wins this weekend …

In the Central, the top seeded Minot Minotauros take on the Bismarck Bobcats as it’s an in-state rivalry for the Central Division title. The Minotauros could not be hotter as they steamrolled the Austin Bruins in the division semifinal as Minot outscored Austin 19-3 in the three game sweep. Niklas Keotnen, Nick Sewecke, Ian Spencer and Joel Lehtinen all had five points in the three games while Jack O’Hanisain had four of his own. Six additional players had three points in the series. It was a harder road for the Bismarck Bobcats in round one as they needed all five games to dispatch the Aberdeen Wings. After splitting the first two games on home ice, Bismarck dropped Game 3 in Aberdeen to put them in a 2-1 series hole. But with their back against the ropes, Bismarck demolished Aberdeen in an 8-2 Game 4 victory before taking the series at home in Game 5 by a 4-1 score. Tommy Cronin led the way with seven points. Jake Peterson, Evan Hunter, Patrick Johnson and Tamas Toth all finished the series with five points. Goaltending will be fun to watch as both teams have used both of their goalies so far in the postseason. Minot is looking to reach the Robertson Cup for the first time since 2018 while Bismarck is looking for their first appearance since 2016.

In the East Division, as much as things change, things also stay the same. It’s a rematch of last year’s East Division Final between Maryland and Maine and third time in the last four years this has been the East Final. Maine advanced to the Robertson Cup after sweeping Maryland in 2021 while the Black Bears punched their ticket last season beating the Nordiques in four games. Maryland swept New Jersey in the division semifinal and Dimitry Kebreau and Jeremy Tremblay led the way with five points for the Black Bears. After winning the first two games at home, Maine dropped both games in Rochester forcing a Game 5 at the Colisee on Monday. After falling behind 1-0, Zion Green scored in the third and notched the game winning goal in overtime to life the Nordiques to the next round. Nils Forselius had five points while Shane Kozlina ended the series with four. The goaltending matchup is electric as Owen Lepak is 3-0 thus far with a 1.66 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. Carter Richardson in five games is 3-1-1 with a 2.06 GAA and a .941 save percentage.

In the Midwest, it will be Anchorage looking to return to Blaine for the second time in their three year history while Wisconsin will try to punch their ticket to Blaine for the very first time. Anchorage needed four games to dispatch the Minnesota Wilderness Tyler Hennen and Fyodor Nikolayenya led the offense with five points each. 10 players in total had multiple points in the series. It was an easier path for the Windigo as not only did they stay in state but they just needed three games to ground the Jets. Everett Pietila had four points for the Windigo while Jacob Jastrzebski and Max Martin both gathered three points for the Windigo. Max Beckford for Wisconsin has been one of the best in the playoffs thus far as he has allowed just three goals in three games, sporting a save percentage of .974 and posting one shutout. Liam Beerman has been very good in his own right. A 3-1 record, a 1.72 GAA and a .949 save percentage and one shutout of his own.

Finally we check out the South Division, the only division final where both teams have hoisted a Robertson Cup, the Lone Star Brahmas and Shreveport Mudbugs renew their rivalry tonight at the shoebox with the right to go to Blaine on the line. Lone Star took down New Mexico in four games as Ivan Zadvernyuk posted six points in the four game series. Jacob MacDonald and Brock James posted five points while three other got three points. Lone Star has been off since last Wednesday while Shreveport had to play Friday, Saturday and Monday and travel all the way from El Paso as that may play a role in this series. The Mudbugs had to play a five game series to get rid of those pesky Rhinos. Colin Vassallo and Kyan Haldenby each registered three goals and seven points in the series. Three other Mudbugs had three points in the series. Jack Wieneke has gotten three of the four starts in net for Lone Star going 2-0-1 with a 1.45 GAA, Deivs Rolovs played once posting a 19 save shutout. Eliot Seguin-Lescarbeau appeared in four of the games for Shreveport, he had a record of 3-0-1, a 1.39 GAA and a .944 save percentage to go with his shutout in Game 5 to seal the series. These two teams have combined to win three of the last six Robertson Cup championships.

Of the eight teams remaining only three have won a Robertson Cup before. Shreveport the most recent in 2021 and 2019. Lone Star took home the cup in 2017 and Bismarck won their only title in 2010. Will a team add to their collection or will the Robertson Cup call a new place home this offseason, tune in NATV to find out!

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