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DAILY DISH: Robertson Cup Championship Preview Canadian Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 7 May 2018  
By: Stephen Heisler, JuniorHockey.com


The North American Hockey League divisional championships have been decided with a few surprises headed to Blaine, Minnesota’s Fogerty Arena to compete for the Robertson Cup Championship.

Today we’ll look at each of the four teams before taking another stab at picking the semi-finals winners.

Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Regular Season: 45-8-4-3 / 1st Place Midwest Division
JuniorHockey.com Final Ranking & Grade: #1 / A
Playoffs: ROUND ONE 3-0 over MN Magicians / ROUND TWO 3-2 over Janesville 
Playoffs Record: 6-1-1-0
Thoughts: The Ice Dogs have been one of those hot and cold teams for the last two seasons. After losing two of three games at home to Janesville, many considered Fairbanks to be a little overrated. Oh boy, that was a mistake now wasn’t it? The last thing any team should ever do is underestimate the Ice Dogs. When this team is clicking, they can play with any junior team on the continent… yes, any.

Shreveport Mudbugs
Regular Season: 41-12-3-4 / 1st Place South Division
JuniorHockey.com Final Ranking & Grade: #2 / A
Playoffs: ROUND ONE 3-2 over Corpus Christi / ROUND TWO 3-2 over Lone Star
Playoffs Record: 6-2-2-0
Thoughts: I was not a believer after Shreveport needed all five games to get past the Ice Rays. Watching the Mudbugs battle with the Brahmas last night, I still did not think they were strong enough to advance going into the closing seconds of the game. Sorry, I’m just not impressed. Zirnis is a good coach that has done a great job with this team.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Regular Season: 30-24-5-1 / 3rd Place East Division
JuniorHockey.com Final Ranking & Grade: #12 / C
Playoffs: ROUND ONE 3-2 over New Jersey / ROUND TWO 3-0 over Philadelphia
Playoffs Record: 6-2-0-0
Thoughts: If Minot is the underdog, the Knights are the Rodney Dangerfield. The problem with not respecting Wilkes-Barre is the fact that they are also riding a five-game winning streak into the semi-final series with Shreveport after making it look too easy against Philadelphia. That divisional final win was so convincing that it may have cost Rebels’ coach Joe Coombs his job. If that’s the case, what’s going to happen to Karlis Zirnis if the Knights sweep the Mudbugs as well?

Minot Minotauros 
Regular Season: 28-26-4-2 / 4th Place in Central Division
JuniorHockey.com Final Ranking & Grade: #16 / C
Playoffs: ROUND ONE 3-2 over Aberdeen / ROUND TWO 3-0 over Austin
Playoffs Record: 6-2-0-0
Thoughts: It’s always nice to have an assortment of characters at any party and Minot is more than happy to play the roll of the “just happy-to-be-here” underdogs. That’s worked quite well for them while dispatching the favored Wings and Bruins in the first two rounds. While Minot comes into the semi-final series against Fairbanks as the 4th seed; they will also be riding a five-game hot streak into that first game on Friday. 

SCHEDULE
Friday May 11
#1 Fairbanks vs #4 Minot
#2 Shreveport vs #3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Saturday May 12
#1 Fairbanks vs #4 Minot
#2 Shreveport vs #3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Sunday May 13
#1 Fairbanks vs #4 Minot (if necessary)
#2 Shreveport vs #3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (if necessary)

Monday May 14
Robertson Cup Championship Game

PREDICTION
Minot vs Fairbanks: The Minotauros are a fantastic story and it would be nice to see the fairy tale continue. The problem with that is the fact that it is a best-of-three series and the Ice Dogs are way too deep to let this Championship get away from them. FAIRBANKS WIN.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton vs Shreveport: It’s fair to say that I’ll never send a player to a team coached by Tom Kowal; he’s just not my favorite type of coach. I believe that the Knights are here because New Jersey lost interest and the Rebels’ Joe Coombs lost his team. Shreveport players would skate through a brick wall for their bench boss and that’s why SHREVEPORT WINS.


Author: Stephen Heisler from JuniorHockey.com
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with the Heisler Hockey Group. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.





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