The North American Hockey League 2018 Robertson Cup Playoffs get started this weekend and will play down to the Final Four event played at Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, Minnesota, from May 11-14, 2018. The Robertson Cup is awarded to the national playoff champion of the NAHL.
Let’s take a bit of a closer look at each series.
Central Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Aberdeen Wings vs. #4 Minot Minotauros
THOUGHTS: What I’m about to say is going to drive some folks in Topeka and Aberdeen crazy. I have to bring up the question in regards to Wings’ coach Scott Langer’s ability to put the icing on the cake of another great regular season. Despite all of his successes, the one thing missing from the resume is the elusive Robertson Cup Championship. Now it’s going to be Minot’s job to put that question into Langer’s head as often as possible if they are going to have any success against the Wings in this series. On paper, this is the Wings’ series to lose….but the game is played on ice and Minot has a ton of weapons to through at Aberdeen. Two great coaches in what should be an awesome playoff series to watch.
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Minot, 7:35pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Minot, 7:35pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Aberdeen, 7:15pm*
#2 Austin Bruins vs. #3 Minnesota Wilderness
THOUGHTS: Again, these are two of the most well respected coaches in the league getting the opportunity to go at it like a schoolyard brawl. Fans should expect this one to be very entertaining with unsung heroes unveiling themselves again and again. Will it be a goalie, a 4th line grinder, or a rookie that turns into a superstar? Look for overtime games to be the rule and not the exception as well.
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Austin, 7:05pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Austin, 7:05pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Wilderness, 7:05pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Wilderness, 7:05pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Austin, 7:05pm*
East Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Philadelphia Rebels vs. #4 Northeast Generals
THOUGHTS: The Generals have to get past the just-happy-to-be-here mentality and realize that Joe Coombs and the Rebels want to punch their playoff lights out in the fewest number of games possible. If the Generals can get more than a single win in this series I’d have to say that would be a job well done.
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Philadelphia, 7:05pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Aberdeen, 7:05pm
Game 3: Wednesday, April 18 @ Northeast, 7:00pm
Game 4: Thursday, April 19 @ Northeast, 7:00pm*
Game 5: Saturday, April 21 @ Philadelphia, 7:05pm*
#2 New Jersey Titans vs. #3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
THOUGHTS: At first glance this looks like a fairly easy series to assume in should be pretty good. But there’s much more to the story than that. Take the dismal attendance numbers out of the equation and look under the hood. New Jersey has proven they can beat, or lose to, any team on the schedule. The Knights are something entirely different; they play as if they are scared to loose and like they are not having too much fun. Folks, if it’s not fun, there is not going to be a significant amount of success.
PREDICTION: New Jersey
Game 1: Saturday, April 14 @ New Jersey, 7:00pm
Game 2: Sunday, April 15 @ New Jersey, 5:00pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 5:00pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 6:00pm*
Game 5: Sunday, April 22 @ New Jersey, 5:00pm*
Midwest Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. #4 Minnesota Magicians
THOUGHTS: Magicians interim head coach Ben Weiand has been on the bench since early December while guiding the club through a change of direction and culture. The issues the Magicians are going to have against Fairbanks are wide-spread. Simply said, when Fairbanks is “on”, stopping them is like trying to slow the momentum of a fast-moving freight train. Do the Magicians have the patience to get past Fairbanks?
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Fairbanks, 7:30pm
Game 3: If Fairbanks is up 2-0, Saturday, April 20 @ Minnesota, 7:00pm
Game 3: If series is tied 1-1 or Minnesota is up 2-0, Sunday, April 15 @ Fairbanks, 5:00pm
Game 4: April 20 or 21 @ Minnesota, 7:00pm*
Game 5: April 21 or 22 @ Minnesota, 7:00pm*
#2 Janesville Jets vs. #3 Springfield Jr. Blues
THOUGHTS: Like the Generals, the Blues are just happy to be here. Meanwhile, the Jets have their sights set on something else entirely. Look for Janesville to flex some muscle early and often while trying to get this one done quickly.
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Janesville, 7:00pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Janesville, 7:00pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Springfield, 7:05pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Springfield, 6:05pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Janesville, 6:00pm*
South Division Semi-Finals (best of 5)
#1 Shreveport Mudbugs vs. #4 Corpus Christi IceRays
THOUGHTS: At first glance one would automatically assume that the Mudbugs would breeze through this series. That would be if looking from anywhere outside of Northwest Louisiana or Texas. The problem is the fact that Mudbugs can’t figure out a way to get the best of those saltwater creatures from South Texas. It’s all but comical. Looks like 2017 to me.
PREDICTION: Corpus Christi
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm
Game 3: Thursday, April 19 @ Corpus Christi, 7:05pm
Game 4: Friday, April 20 @ Corpus Christi, 6:30pm*
Game 5: Sunday, April 22 @ Shreveport, 7:11pm*
#2 Lone Star Brahmas vs. #3 Odessa Jackalopes
THOUGHTS: Once again, Lone Star is peaking at just the right time and I don’t know of Greg Gatto’s Jackalopes have anything in the barn that can stop the Brahmas.
PREDICTION: Lone Star
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Lone Star, 7:30pm
Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Odessa, 7:11pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Odessa, 7:11pm*
Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Lone Star, 7:00pm*