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Robertson Cup Final Four is Set

05/06/2014, 11:45am MDT
By Tom Robinson - Special to USAHockey.com

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.

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Three ways to beat burnout

11/28/2016, 9:45pm MST
By Dave Pond

According to NHL metrics, the average hockey shift lasts somewhere between 45 and 55 seconds. There’s inherent beauty and fluidity to line changes, as skaters come on and off the ice, looking to recharge after going full throttle for their teams.

Meanwhile, your NHL officiating peers are giving their all, too – regularly logging 4-5 miles a game. Those totals are even greater at your level, where you and your colleagues officiate multiple games a day, several times per week, on a seemingly never-ending calendar.

And, although we want to perform our best every game, everyone has both good days and bad – players and officials alike. To learn more about keeping burnout at bay, we went to the experts: longtime amateur hockey scheduler Larry Carrington and former NHL official Mark Faucette.

“There is so much more to officiating than meets the eye,” said Faucette, a 17-year NHL veteran. “It may look easy from the stands, but to maintain total control of a game along with the stress, slumps, supervisors, travel, and fitness regimen takes a very special kind of person.”

Get in shape (and stay there)
We all think we’re in “pretty good” shape, but the reality is, officials must be top athletes and in great condition – even at the youngest levels.

“Conditioning is very important—the deeper into the season, the more important it is,” Carrington said. “Burnout happens physically, mentally, and emotionally. An official who is in good condition will experience less physical burnout, and that will in turn help with the emotional and mental burnout.”

Faucette stresses following a workout routine that maxes yourself at least every other day. Neither player or official should plan to use games as a vehicle toward better physical fitness.

“Where we used to go to camp to get into shape, officials today are on summer conditioning regimens and are tested as soon as they come to camp,” he said. “Taking care of your body is a total focus for the good official.

“The players are so much stronger and faster now, so it’s imperative the officials keep the same pace.”

Find balance
No, not balance on your skates (that’s a given). Rather, make sure to keep the big picture in mind, to work a manageable schedule that includes everything that’s important to you – family, friends, and time away from the rink.

Although it makes Carrington’s job as an assignor more difficult, he said it pays off in the long run.

“I encourage officials to take at least one weekend off to get away from hockey,” he said. “I certainly don't want to lose their services for a week, but the invigoration that it usually provides makes them a much more valuable asset over the course of the season.”

That’s huge in an industry where both mental and physical fatigue are commonplace.

“Every official runs into slumps, just as players do,” Faucette said. “You spend numerous hours alone as an official, and when things are not going good, where everything is negative, it can cause you duress.

“Positive thoughts and self-evaluations speed up recovery,” he continued. “So, instead of telling yourself, ‘I wonder what bad thing will happen tonight?’ say ‘I’m ready for anything – bring it on!’”

Have fun
It’s No. 3 here, but should be No. 1 on your to-do list.

“I realize the officials are all trying hard, and mistakes are part of any sport by any participant,” said Faucette, who currently serves as supervisor of officials for USA Hockey, the NAHL director of player safety and the SPHL director of officiating. “That being said, the joy I get out of seeing a young official start out at ground level and making the big time one day is immeasurable.”

For most of you reading this, the “big time” might not be the end goal (and that’s OK). But wherever you are, there’s experience you’ve gained, as well as that to come – which both point back to why you first got involved in this great sport.

As an assignor, Carrington tries to get out of the office as much as he can and intentionally varies the schedules of his officials to help keep things fresh. He also encourages his more senior officials to lend a hand to those who aren’t as long in the tooth.

“Going to the rink and helping officials help themselves get better can be very invigorating,” he said. “Even a very good, very experienced official will often find it fun and relaxing to mentor some new official at a lower-level game where the stress levels aren’t nearly as high.”

But no matter where you officiate, Carrington emphasizes keeping one thing in mind: the love of the sport and those playing it today.

“If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be out there.”

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