Blaine, Minnesota – The 2018-19 North American Hockey League season started with 24 teams embarking on an adventure to claim the Robertson Cup. Now we are down to the final four teams who wrap up that adventure this weekend at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minnesota.
How We Got Here:
The final four participants in the 2019 Robertson Cup Playoffs are the four divisional winners from the regular season. The overall #1 seed is the Johnstown Tomahawks who are representing the East Division. Their 47-9-3-1 record was fueled by the four headed dragon that is Cameron Hebert, Carson Briere, Oliver Benwell and Samuel Solensky who all had 70 plus points on the season. Johnstown’s backstop, Carter McPhail, posted a 29-3-2-0 record during the regular season and has a 6-3-1 record in the playoffs.
Johnstown’s opponent will be the #4 seed Fairbanks Ice Dogs, who are representing the Midwest Division. The Ice Dogs benefited from a second half surge to finish 37-16-3-4 for 81 points, 16 points fewer than the other three Robertson Cup participants. Fairbanks has relied on their netminder Mattias Sholl throughout the playoffs with his 6-0-0 record and 1.00 GAA. Jonathan Sorensen put up 56 points during the regular season and has 6 goals thus far in the playoffs.
The #2 seed Amarillo Bulls survived two five game series en route to Blaine, MN after putting up a 46-8-3-3 record in the regular season. Amarillo, who is representing the South Division, has been led by forward Logan Jenuwine all season long. The Arizona State University commit put up an NAHL record 60 goals in the regular season and had 104 points overall. Despite Jenuwine’s offensive contributions earlier this year, it’s been Gabriel Seger and Alex Peterson (6 goals each) who have been driving the train in the playoffs.
Amarillo’s opponent and the #3 seed is the Aberdeen Wings out of the Central Division. Aberdeen sported a 47-10-2-1 record this year thanks to a 40 win campaign from goaltender Matt Vernon. Vernon has continued his strong play in the playoffs, evident by his 6-1-1 record and a 2.11 GAA. Brad Belisle, John Sladic, and Joe Strada all contributed 60+ points during the regular season, but it’s been Jonathan Bendorf’s 7 goals in the playoffs that have helped them arrive at the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals.
Schedule and Format:
The four teams were seeded based upon their regular season records after the conclusion of the Divisional Playoff rounds. Johnstown and Fairbanks will play a best-of-three series starting late this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Game two is scheduled for puck drop at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, and game three (if necessary) will be held on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
Amarillo and Aberdeen will play the nightcap tonight at 7:30 p.m. to begin their best-of-three series. Game two will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as well, and game three (if necessary) will be on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
The winner of each series will face off against each other to determine the 2019 Robertson Cup Champion on Tuesday May 14th at 7:00 p.m. All Robertson Cup Playoff games can be viewed live on HockeyTV.
By the Numbers:
Fairbanks has won three Robertson Cup Championships (2011, 2014, 2016) and will look to move into sole possession of 4th place for the most NAHL Championships with their 4th title (Compuware Ambassadors-11, Paddock Pools-7, Texas Tornado-5). They currently are tied with the St. Louis Bandits (defunct) for the 5th most championships with three a piece.
Amarillo has a Robertson Cup Championship under their belt as well (2013). They are currently tied with Little Caesars (1976), Danville Wings (2000), Pittsburgh Forge (2003), Bismarck Bobcats (2010), Minnesota Wilderness (2015), Lone Star Brahmas (2017), and Shreveport Mudbugs (2018) for the 7th most titles with one.
The Aberdeen Wings have not won a championship yet, but they’ve made the playoffs in six of their nine seasons in the NAHL. In two of those postseason appearances they’ve advanced to the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals (2016-17 & 2018-19). The Johnstown Tomahawks are in their 7th season in the NAHL and have yet to win the cup, but they’ve appeared in the playoffs five times and finished this season with the overall best record in the NAHL. The Wings and the Tomahawks will look to join the Brahmas and Mudbugs who both won their first titles in the last two Robertson Cup Championships.
From the Commissioner:
While each team has goals of making it to Blaine, MN, it’s the league’s mission to continue to improve player experience and advancement. The Robertson Cup Championship has become a hotbed for scouts and college programs to flock to in order to find the next big hockey star.
“The 2018 Robertson Cup outperformed everyone’s expectations in terms of the on-ice competition, the number of scouts in the building, and the number of fans in the stands. When we combined all those factors, the decision to return to the Fogerty Arena in 2019 to host our National Championship was a pretty easy one,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld. “We had over 70 NCAA commitments in the NAHL following the event, including 21 from the four teams that participated in the 2018 Robertson Cup. It continues to be an important part of the NAHL event structure and continues our mission of being the League of Opportunity, no matter the time of year or setting. We look forward to build on last year and provide another memorable and incredible Robertson Cup Championship for our players.”