The hot goaltending of Christian Stoever has turned the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights into the first Robertson Cup finalist.
Stoever made 39 saves Friday night in his fifth straight playoff win to lead the Knights to a 2-1, home-ice victory over the Philadelphia Rebels, completing a three-game sweep of the North American Hockey League’s East Division finals.
The Knights and three other division playoff champions will head to the Robertson Cup Championships at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minnesota, May 11-14.
Stoever has stopped 194 of 202 shots during the playoff winning streak.
After going 15-11-3-1 with a 3.26 goals against average and .902 save percentage in the regular season, the 17-year-old from Northville, Michigan, is 6-1 with a 1.86 GAA and .951 save percentage in the playoffs.
Tyrone Bronte backhanded a shot into the net while falling down late in the first period to open the scoring. Carson Moniz tied the game with 6:24 left in the second. Matt Kidney scored the game-winner on a rebound with 15 seconds left in the second.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won the first two games, 4-1 and 5-4. Stoever made 33 saves in the series opener. Jack Olmstead scored twice in the second game.
ROBERTSON ROUNDUP: The Janesville Jets lead the regular-season champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 2-1, in the best-of-five Midwest Division final after Sunday’s 3-2 overtime victory.
Sam Renlund scored twice in the third period to overcome a 2-0 deficit before Simon Sagissor scored the overtime winner Sunday.
Renlund and T.J. Polglaze each had four points in a 6-4 win in the series opener. Fairbanks tied the series with a 3-2 win in Game 2 on a score by defenseman Nolan Schaeffer with 3.6 seconds left.
The Minot Minotauros leads the Austin Bruins, 2-0, while the Shreveport Mudbugs are up 2-0 on the Lone Star Brahmas in the other division final.
Minot came from two goals down to win, 3-2, after taking the series opener, 4-1.
Shreveport allowed just one goal while winning a pair of one-goal games to start the series.
CLARK CUP: One division final is underway and the other has been set up in the United States Hockey League’s Clark Cup.
The Waterloo Black Hawks and Fargo Force split the first two games of the best-of-five Western Conference finals.
USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and the Youngstown Phantoms will meet in the Eastern Conference.
Fargo bounced back from losing Game 1 Saturday, 2-0, to win the second game Sunday, 3-2, in overtime on the road and even its series with Waterloo.
Game 2 was scoreless until 14 seconds remained in the second period when Griffin Loughran scored for Fargo.
The Anderson Cup champion Black Hawks overcame a two-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes to force overtime, where Spencer Meier scored the game-winner for the Force. The teams are off until playing the third and fourth games in Fargo Friday and Saturday.
The series opener was scoreless until the final 4:20 when Evan Dougherty broke through for Waterloo. Joey Cassetti added an empty-netter and Jared Moe made a 29-save shutout.
Team USA hosts Youngstown Tuesday and Wednesday to begin their best-of-five series.
GETTING THERE: Team USA earned its first-ever trip to the Eastern Conference final by winning consecutive overtime games against the Steel in Chicago Wednesday and Thursday.
The clincher was a 4-3 win on Alex Vlasic’s short-handed goal less than four minutes into overtime.
Team USA won the night before, 3-2.
Waterloo won in Lincoln, 2-1 and 3-2, Tuesday and Wednesday to take the conference semifinal series, three games to one, advancing to the Western Conference final for the third straight season and fourth time in five games.
The Black Hawks opened a 3-0 lead in the clinching win. Jackson Cates scored the winner in overtime and Moe made 27 saves Tuesday.
The other Western series also went four games.
Fargo advanced on Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the Omaha Lancers in which Strauss Mann made 36 saves. Defenseman Robbie Stucker had three assists the night before in a 6-5 victory.
Youngstown completed a three-game sweep of the Dubuque Fighting Saints with Tuesday’s 3-0 shutout.
ONE-TIMERS: The Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL have hired Tom Mannino as general manager and director of player development. … The NAHL’s Coulee Region Chill will move about 100 miles north from La Crosse to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, after an agreement to sell the team, but La Crosse will remain part of the North American 3 Hockey League. … The NAHL announced its all-rookie team of Aberdeen Wings forward Nathan Burke, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Jack Olmstead, Janesville forward Renlund, Coulee Region defenseman Brandon Koch, Shreveport defenseman Jack Clement and Lone Star goalie Mitchell Gibson.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc