The Fairbanks Ice Dogs followed up the best record in the North American Hockey League regular season by capturing the Robertson Cup as NAHL playoff and USA Hockey Tier II junior national champions.
Fairbanks took advantage of earning the home ice for every game of the last two rounds by sweeping the Austin Bruins in the championship series. The Ice Dogs won 5-4 in overtime Friday night then finished off the Bruins with a 6-2 victory Saturday.
Fairbanks goalie Kevin Aldridge was named the Robertson Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player after he made 31 saves Friday and 19 Saturday. Aldridge finished the playoffs 10-4 with a 1.86 goals-against average and three shutouts.
Colton Wolter scored two goals in the clinching game for Fairbanks, one to break a 1-1 tie early in the second period and another for a 5-1 lead in the third. Viktor Liljegren also scored two goals while Jacob Getz added a goal and two assists.
Tayler Munson had two goals in Game 1 for the Ice Dogs, including the overtime game-winner.
Drew Anderson had a goal and three assists for Austin. Teammate Jay Dickman had two goals and an assist in Game 1 and added a goal and an assist in the second game.
The title was the second in the last four years for the Ice Dogs.
CLARK CUP: Joe Sullivan’s goal 6:49 into the second overtime Saturday night lifted the Indiana Ice over the host Waterloo Black Hawks 3-2 and evened the United States Hockey League’s Clark Cup Final at one game apiece.
The best-of-five series, which continues Friday and Saturday in Indiana, determines the USHL postseason and USA Hockey Tier I junior national championships
Waterloo won the series opener 4-2 Friday, when goalie Cal Petersen made 32 saves. Tyler Sheehy and Hayden Shaw each had a goal and an assist for the Black Hawks in the win.
The teams traded four special teams goals Saturday. Waterloo took a 2-1 lead when John Wiitala scored a short-handed goal 39 seconds into the third period. Indiana’s Mitch Hults tied the game on the same power play less than a minute later.
NAHL STARS: The NAHL named league, division and rookie all-star teams based on voting by the league’s head coaches.
The all-NAHL team included two Topeka RoadRunners players: forward Tyler Poulsen and goalie P.J. Bridges. The rest of the team was Kenai River Brown Bears forward Alec Butcher, Amarillo Bulls forward Mike Davis, Bismarck Bobcats defenseman Nate Repensky, and Aberdeen Wings defenseman Jake Horton.
Repensky and Horton were also on the Central Division all-star team with two Austin players: Dickman, a forward, and goalie Nick Lehr. Bismarck forward Stanislav Dzakhov and Aberdeen Wings forward T.J. Roo also made the team.
Butcher made the Midwest Division team with goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo and defenseman Terry Leabo of the Minnesota Wilderness, forward Tyler Munson and defenseman Nick Hinz of Fairbanks, and forward Parker Tuomie of the Wenatchee Wild.
Topeka’s Poulsen and Bridges were on the South team with Amarillo Bulls forwards Mike Davis and Tyler Gernhofer, as well as defensemen Dylan Abood from the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, and Sam Piazza from the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
The North Division team featured Port Huron Fighting Falcons forward Bryan Yim and defenseman Jonathan Kopacka, Janesville Jets forward Robin Hoglund, Michigan Warriors forward Colin Larkin, Johnstown Tomahawks defenseman Mitch Hall, and Springfield Jr. Blues goalie Stefanos Lekkas.
Aberdeen’s Roo was also on the all-rookie team with Wenatchee forward Parker Tuomie, defenseman Matt Nuttle and goalie Chase Perry; Austin forward Guillaume Leclerc; and Fairbanks defenseman Wyatt Ege.
COACHING CHANGE: John LaFontaine, who led Shattuck-St. Mary’s to a Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I 14-and-Under national championship this spring, has been named as coach of the NAHL’s Wichita Falls Wildcats.
LaFontaine coached the Bozeman Icedogs in the America West Hockey League and NAHL from 2000-07.
Two other NAHL teams announced new head coaches. Tom Upton is the new coach and general manager of the Minnesota Magicians, who just completed their first season, and Jon Rogger was named coach of the Amarillo Bulls.
Upton was assistant coach of the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders during the 2013-14 season.
Rogger moves to Amarillo from the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, where he was coach for two seasons. He replaces Dennis Williams, who is becoming coach of the Bloomington Thunder, a USHL expansion team.
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Aberdeen defenseman Dillon Eichstadt has committed to play at Bemidji State University. Eichstadt had four goals and 31 assists in 51 games last season. The 20-year-old is returning to his hometown in Minnesota to start his college career.
Danny Fetzer, a forward with the Chicago Steel of the USHL, has committed to Minnesota State University-Mankato. Fetzer, a 21-year-old from Chicago, had 23 points in 55 games is his second season in the league.
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.