The Robertson Cup Final Four, which determines the North American Hockey League and USA Hockey Tier II Junior National titles, is set.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Topeka RoadRunners, Austin Bruins and Michigan Warriors each won their division final series and are seeded 1-4, in that order, based on their regular-season records.
The semifinals are set for best-of-three series with games at the higher seed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The finals will follow next weekend, again with all three games, if necessary, at the home of the highest remaining seed.
Michigan is at Fairbanks and Austin is at Topeka this weekend.
DIVISION RECAPS: Michigan had the fewest points of the division playoff champions during the regular season but has the best record of the playoffs so far, winning six out of seven games. Goalie Trevor Gorsuch has three shutouts in those seven games.
The Warriors had a chance to clinch in Game 3 Friday but lost 2-1 to the Port Huron Fighting Falcons. Michigan wrapped up the series in Game 4 Sunday with a 4-0 shutout. Gorsuch stopped 33 shots in his latest shutout. T.J. Stuntz scored consecutive goals in the third period to take a 3-0 lead.
The other three series all went to the maximum five games.
Fairbanks won the Midwest Division title Sunday on Kyle Lee’s overtime goal on the power play for a 3-2 victory over the Wenatchee Wild. It was the second straight overtime game in the series.
Austin won the Central Division to make it to the Robertson Cup final four for the first time. The Bismarck Bobcats had won five straight division playoff titles before losing 2-1 to the Bruins in Game 5 Monday. Jay Dickman scored the decisive goal with 4:56 remaining.
The Bruins were down 2-1 in the series before winning the final two games. In Game 4 on Sunday, Sam Kauppila scored twice, including the game-winner, in a 4-3 win.
Topeka won the South Division despite losing Games 3 and 4 at home. The RoadRunners won the deciding game 6-2 on Monday in Amarillo over the defending champion Bulls. Yu Hikosaka had two goals and an assist in Game 5.
CLARK CUP: The Indiana Ice and Waterloo Black Hawks each have 2-0 leads in their best-of-five United States Hockey League Clark Cup Playoff semifinals after winning on home ice Friday and Saturday.
Waterloo started the Western Conference Final by defeating the Sioux City Musketeers, 3-2 and 3-1.
Drew Melanson and Tyler Sheehy each scored in both games for the Black Hawks. Sheehy has goals in four straight playoff games. Cal Petersen made 31 saves in the first game and 25 in the second for Waterloo.
Indiana won the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final over the Dubuque Fighting Saints, 4-1 and 3-2. Jason Pawlowski made 22 saves for Indiana in the first game and 26 in the second. Sam Kurker scored two goals in Game 2.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Several USHL players announced their recent college commitments.
Des Moines Buccaneers defenseman David Drake is headed to the University of Connecticut, Fargo Force defenseman Neal Goff committed to Western Michigan University, Fargo forward Andrew McDonald committed to Bentley University and Omaha Lancers forward Gage Hough is headed to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Drake, a 19-year-old from Naperville, Ill., has five assists in 51 games in his second season with Des Moines. The Philadelphia Flyers drafted Drake, a 6-foot-4 defenseman, in the seventh round of the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Goff was captain of the Force. The 20-year-old from Stillwater, Minn. had two goals and seven assists in 58 games.
McDonald, 20, rom New Brighton, Minn., has four goals and six assists in 53 games for Fargo.
Hough was 16th in the league in scoring with 24 goals and 28 assists in 59 games. The 21-year-old from Omaha’s plus-29 ranking was ninth best in the league.
Drew Callin, a forward for the Janesville Jets of the NAHL, has also committed to Bentley. Callin, a 19-year-old from Middleton, Wis., had 16 goals and 17 assists in 56 games this season.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
If you’ve ever called USA Hockey with officiating registration questions, you’ve likely heard the voice of Helen Fenlon. As the manager of officiating administration, Fenlon is the brains behind registration operations. She started working with USA Hockey in 1991 and joined the officiating department in 1993.
Fenlon took a break from readying eager officials for the upcoming season to tell us more about herself and the registration process.
USA Hockey: How did you first get involved with USA Hockey? Did you lace up the skates or make the call on the ice a time or two?
Helen Fenlon: (Laughs) No, I wasn’t a ref or player. I was a mom and I had a child that played. I volunteered at the local association for a number of years and volunteered at USA Hockey. Before I knew it I was employed by them and have been doing this job ever since. It’s nice because I’ve seen the volunteer side and know how the local and state boards work because I did all of that when my kids were growing up.
USA Hockey: What’s a typical day like for you?
Helen Fenlon: I work on the officiating registration. When everyone registers (to be an official) they are mailed out books to do the test and emailed information about doing the test online and ways to sign up for seminars online as well. Then I score the test when they come in for the closed-book test and basically answer all the questions that pertain to the ice hockey refs. I manage approximately 24,000 registrations when from August 1 through March. Once the registration period is over, we start getting ready for next year.
USA Hockey: How has the registration process changed in your 21-year tenure?
Helen Fenlon: When we first started, we used to mail them out the application, have them mail it back with a check and then we would process it. Once that was done, we would mail them a test and they would mail us back their answer sheet when they were done. It was all done by hand back then. Now, for registration, they just go online and pay with a credit card and the test is also done online. It’s much easier for everyone involved.
In the past, we also would just do an open-book test, but it’s evolved into different levels of doing an open-book and closed-book test, and some do a skating exam, too. Also going into place this year, everyone will do an online seminar.
USA Hockey: Officials must be happy to have the process accelerated thanks to online capabilities.
Helen Fenlon: It’s great for people to access the test faster and be able to turn materials around faster so they can start working. To some of these people, it’s a job. Others do it because they want to help kids. People do it for all kinds of different reasons. For me, it’s impressive to see people who stick with (officiating) for so long.
USA Hockey: How have the resources available to officials changed through the years?
Helen Fenlon: Right now, with the new rules and programs in place, the amount of resources available for officials education is improving, but we’re always looking for more ways to help our officials be successful.
USA Hockey: What’s one thing you want to remind everyone about?
Helen Fenlon: It’s always been my goal for everybody across the country, whether you’re in Colorado Springs, New York, California or anywhere in between, to follow the same rules as far as being able to become an official and complete the registration. That’s the fair way, and it’s the best way to ensure the best quality of officiating throughout the country.