The NAHL Division Finals have concluded with the Amarillo Bulls, Wenatchee Wild, Bismarck Bobcats and Jamestown Ironmen punching their tickets to the Robertson Cup National Tournament to be held in Frisco, TX- May 10 – 13. Only the West Division went to a deciding game five before a winner was crowned.
NAHL North Division
Soo vs. Jamestown
The Jamestown Ironmen went into Sault Ste. Marie, MI to face the Soo Eagles for games one and two of the North Division Finals. The Eagles had won 6 of the eight regular season contests between the two teams, outscoring Jamestown 34-18 over those eight games. Jamestown however, took both games on the road by scores of 6-3 and 1-0.
Jamestown back on home ice was looking to complete the reversal of the season long trend against the Eagles. In the first period the Ironmen jumped out to a three goal lead. Daniel Cesarz (Tyler Dunagan) was first on the board at 3:07. Evan Ritt (Luc Gerdes) followed at 5:59. With just 1:49 to go in the period, Ryan Doucet (Ritt – Gerdes) sent the teams to the first intermission.
Soo made an attempt to get back into the game in the second. Alexander Taulien (Chris Waterstreet) came through for the Eagles at 1:25. At 14:23 Dante Suffredini (Jared VanWormer, Brandon Adams) pulled the Soo within a single goal.
Joe Ballmer made 24 saves on 26 shots for the victory while Tyler Marble faced 35 shots making 31 saves for the loss.
Evan Ritt (3G-2A) and Luc Gerdes (1G-3A) led the Ironmen in scoring during the three game series. Joe Ballmer picked up all three wins against the Eagles posting a 1.67GAA and .946SV%.
NAHL Central Division
Austin vs. Bismarck
The number one seeded Austin Bruins and second seeded Bismarck Bobcats faced each other 10 times during the regular season coming out with identical 5-3-2 records. In game one of the series Austin’s CJ Smith hung a hat trick on Bismarck in a Bruins 4-2 win. Unfortunately for the Bruins that was one of their few bright spots in the series as Bismarck evened thing up with a 5-2 game two win. Once the series moved to Bismarck, the Bobcats had the Division Championship within reach and home ice advantage.
CJ Smith (Fischer) at 6:44 of the second added to the Bruins lead to make it 2-0. However, just over two minutes later Bismarck would start their comeback with a Shane Omdahl (Nate Repensky, Seth Blair) power play goal. Time of the goal was 9:02.
In the third, Levi Blom (Matt Pohlkamp, Mike Dockry) tied it up at two apiece 8:11 into the period. Exactly three minutes later Pohlkamp (Filip Starzynski, Repensky) potted the game winner putting Bismarck just one win away from securing the division crown.
Game four followed the pattern of Austin getting the early lead only to see it fade. AJ Reid (Riley Colvard, Jake Arroyo) scored first at 7:46 of the opening period. At 17:51 Reid was hit with a Butt-Ending double minor and game ejection putting Bismarck on the power play. It took the Bobcats just 12 seconds to capitalize as Blair (Pohlkamp, Repensky) pulled the home team even.
Neither team was able to get one past the goalie in period two. Omdahl (Adam Knochenmus, Repensky)
scored just 5:25 into the third and from there Bismarck held on for the win.
Both Nelson and Jason Pawloski made 36 saves in the game. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Bismarck had put one more shot on goal than had Austin.
Matt Pohlkamp (2G-4A), Daniel Kovar (2G-3A) and Shane Omdahl (2G-0A) accounted for one half of Bismarck’s goals scored in the four games. Aaron Nelson picked up all four decisions going 3-1-0 with a 2.25GAA and .924SV%.
NAHL South Division
Amarillo vs. Texas
In the South Division Finals, Amarillo continued their season long domination of the Tornado in the first two games of the series. The Bulls held a 10-1-1 record against Texas through the season series and won both games in Amarillo by scores of 4-1 and 5-1.
The Tornado took their first and only lead of the series at 5:23 of the first period on a Drew Mayer (Justin Greenberg, Max Shuart) power play goal. Amarillo came right back with a power play goal of their own at 7:11 from Omar Mullan (Matt Sieckhaus, TJ Sarcona). Blake Roubos (Tyler Deresky, Clint Carlisle) put the Bulls in the lead with just under three minutes to go in the first.
Carlisle (Mullan, Garret Peterson) scored just 1:40 into the third, but Nick Neville responded with an unassisted goal just 31 seconds later to knot the score once again. Brady Ferguson (Tyler Rostenkowski, Ryan Cole) scored the go ahead goal for Amarillo at 14:10 before Cole (Deresky, Sherman) scored an empty netter to put the final nail in the Tornado’s coffin.
Brady Ferguson (4G-1A) and Ryan Cole (3G-2A) were Amarillo’s multi goal scorers in the series. Paul Berrafato continued his outstanding play in net running up a 1.67GAA and .938SV% in his three wins.
NAHL West Division
Wenatchee vs. Fairbanks
It took the Wenatchee Wild and Fairbanks Icedogs the full five games to determine who would represent the West Division at the Robertson Cup Tournament. Much as they had during the regular season where Fairbanks took seven of the 12 meetings. The teams split games one and two in Wenatchee with the Wild taking game one in a 1-0 shutout. Game two saw Fairbanks win another one goal game at 4-3.
In period two the teams traded goals with Davis (Joshua Hartley, Barber) picking up his second of the game at 1:21. Lawrence Cornellier (Nick Hinz) pulled the Icedogs to within a single tally at 16:47.
In game four Fairbanks had an opportunity to jump out to a lead late in the first period when Garret Clemment was awarded a penalty shot with just over a minute to play, but Nichols denied him on the attempt.
In the second period Wenatchee’s Max McHugh (Davis, Chris Kerr) opened the scoring at 12:27. Cornellier (Taylor Munson) took only 13 seconds to put up the Fairbanks response to go to the room with a 1-1 tie.
The Wild took the lead 12:39 in the third on a Sullivan (Barber, Noah Nelson) goal. Just as before when Wenatchee took a lead, Fairbanks immediately came back with a goal of their own. Colton Wolter (Brett Gervais) scored just nine seconds after the Sullivan goal. Munson (Clemment, Duggie Lagrone) had the game winner at 13:49.
Again it was Nichols and Perry in net with Perry grabbing the win on 21 saves. Nichols was nearly as good making 25 saves in the loss.
The deciding game five was played back on Wenatchee home ice. It took until 5:56 of the second period before a puck finally found the back of the net. Fairbank’s Jacob Hetz (Hinz) finally broke the ice. The period was over 14 minutes old when Barber (Davis) scored to pull the Wild even.
The third period was all Wild as Brian Williams (Hartley) scored at 7:45 and Davis had an unassisted empty netter at 18:53.
Jono Davis (4G-2A), Jacob Barber (2G-3A) and Joe Sullivan (2G-1A) each had multiple goals in the series to pace the Wild. Robert Nichols record was only 3-2-0 despite his 1.80GAA and .926SV%.
Robertson Cup Tournament
The Robertson Cup Tournament will kick off on Friday May 10th at the Dr. Pepper Starscenter in Frisco, TX with Wenatchee as the number two seed playing number three seed Bismarck in the first game at 4:30pm. The Amarillo Bulls as the number one seed will face the number four seed Jamestown Ironmen at 7:30pm.