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.