Robertson Cup Predictions

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – The Robertson Cup Semi-Finals and Final take place outside the Twin Cities this weekend, where the 40th Champion will be named on Sunday.  The Fairbanks IceDogs (Midwest), Wichita Falls Wildcats (South), Bismarck Bobcats (Central), and the Aston Rebels (East) are the four divisional winners that have a chance at the Cup.

Because the IceDogs won the regular season North American Hockey League title with 49 wins and 101 points, they will face the fourth seeded Rebels who made it out of the newly aligned Eastern division.  The Wildcats own the second best record in the league (93 points) so they will face-off against the Bobcats (78 points) in the best-of-three series.

Former Brahmas Liam Stirtzinger (Fairbanks) and Darion Hanson (Aston) are still competing in the playoffs.

Our Inside the Bullpen staff will break down their thoughts and predictions for this week’s Robertson Cup action. Each team will practice Wednesday, start the three-game series on Thursday, and the two teams that advance will play in the Championship game on Sunday May 15.


Nick Marek (Director of Broadcasting / Play-By-Play):

#1 Fairbanks IceDogs (49-8-3, 6-3 in playoffs) vs. #4 Aston Rebels (35-21-4, 6-0 in playoffs)

NICK’S PICK: Fairbanks

"Do not gloss over the Rebels.  Just because the three of us are choosing Fairbanks to win this match-up, it doesn’t mean the series won’t be close.  Aston is 6-0 in the Robertson Cup Playoffs and former Brahma and Union commit Darion Hanson sports strong numbers in net this month.

That being said, Fairbanks is too deep of a team and they were more battle tested in the Midwest (no offense to the East teams). Fairbanks won two overtime games this post-season and average well over 30 shots per game.  Not to mention they have one of the hottest playoff goalies in Gavin Nieto (1.70 GAA, .928 SV%) and league MVP Todd Burgess has 13 points through nine playoff games.  Fairbanks wins this series in two games, but I would not be surprised if it went the distance."

#2 Wichita Falls Wildcats (44-11-5, 6-0 in playoffs) vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats (37-19-4, 6-3 in playoffs)

NICK’S PICK: Bismarck

"This series really intrigues me.  You have the coach of the year in John LaFontaine against a Bobcat’s team that won its first Central Division title since 2011-12.  Both teams are deep and have played good hockey since March.  The difference maker for me is that Bismarck was more challenged during the playoffs; they won their share of close games, and survived an elimination game on Monday against last year’s runner-up in Austin.

Wichita Falls does have seven players averaging at least a point-per-game in the playoffs, but they haven’t faced a defense like Bismarck since they played the Brahmas in January.  Wichita Falls recently beat an up-tempo Topeka team, but now they face a shut down Bobcat unit that finished second in the NAHL in goals against per game (2.22).  Bismarck is ready for Wichita Falls and offensively; they have a more balanced attack.  Six Bobcats have three or more goals, whereas Wichita Falls has been relying solely on their veterans who are used to playing their style of game. This series WILL go three games and Bismarck comes out on top."


Fairbanks and Bismarck would be a terrific match-up for the Robertson Cup Championship. It would feature two stellar defensive teams, two hungry organizations, and a potential goaltender battle between two of the best (Gavin Nieto and Minnesota-Duluth product Hunter Shepard).  Ultimately, Liam Stirtzinger’s IceDogs end on top and I would make sure is on my big screen this Sunday.

Walt Ruff (Communications Manager / Color Commentator):

#1 Fairbanks IceDogs (49-8-3, 6-3 in playoffs) vs. #4 Aston Rebels (35-21-4, 6-0 in playoffs)

WALT’S PICK: Fairbanks

#2 Wichita Falls Wildcats (44-11-5, 6-0 in playoffs) vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats (37-19-4, 6-3 in playoffs)

WALT’S PICK: Wichita Falls

“I believe the Fairbanks IceDogs will be taking home the 2016 Robertson Cup because of how well rounded they are.  I’ll never forget their game against the Brahmas at the Showcase and everyone dubbing it as a potential championship matchup.  Anytime you have four of the top six scorers in the league, it’s clear your offense is dynamic.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been big on saying that it’s a bit skewed that a lot of their points came against Kenai River, however they’re still dominant.  Furthermore, it’s evident they can score from the blue line as well, with both Jakob Stridsburg and Alex Mehnart finishing in the top six in scoring among defensemen.  To top it all off, they’re backstopped by the goaltender with the best goals against average and save percentage in the entire league, Gavin Nieto.

I don’t see Aston being too much of a problem for them in the first round solely because the Rebels don’t have as much firepower up front.  I believe the IceDogs will be taking on the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the finals because of how hot they’ve been and how well rested they will be.  Bismarck punched their ticket on Monday night, an entire week after Wichita Falls had decided their fate.  Additionally, Bismarck really struggled in a few games against Austin.  Led by the outstanding goaltending of Justin Kapelmaster, the ‘Cats should prevail.”


Chad Siewert (Vice President):

#1 Fairbanks IceDogs (49-8-3, 6-3 in playoffs) vs. #4 Aston Rebels (35-21-4, 6-0 in playoffs)

CHAD’S PICK: Fairbanks

#2 Wichita Falls Wildcats (44-11-5, 6-0 in playoffs) vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats (37-19-4, 6-3 in playoffs)

CHAD’S PICK: Wichita Falls

“The IceDogs will win the Robertson Cup this year because their offense can score at will.  Their offense is just too strong and I don’t believe Wichita Falls has the tools needed to stop them.”