Minot Minotauros to face the Shreveport Mudbugs in Robertson Cup National Championship Game on Monday at 7pm
BLAINE, MINNESOTA – In true underdog fashion, the Minot Minotauros scored three goals in the 3rd period to come from behind to defeat the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 5-4 in overtime in Game 3 of the North American Hockey League Robertson Cup Semi-Finals. Ondrej Pavel scored the game-winner to win the series for Minot and advance them to the Robertson Cup National Championship Game, which will take place on Monday, May 14th where they will face the Shreveport Mudbugs at 7:00pm at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minnesota. The National Championship Game will feature 19 players who are from the state of Minnesota.
For more information on the NAHL Robertson Cup Championship, including tickets to the National Championship Game, please visit www.robertsoncup.com
The Minotauros got off to a good start. After goaltender Samu Lonkila made several key stops early, the Minotauros were able to strike for the game’s first goal with 7:36 remaining in the opening period as Connor McGinnis streaked down the right wing and found Michael Talbot darting through the slot and beat an Ice Dogs defenseman to the front of the net to tip home a pass past Ice Dogs goalie Josh Benson for a 1-0 Minotauros lead, which they would take into the 1st intermission.
As good as the 1st period was for Minot, it quickly turned into a better period for the Ice Dogs in the 2nd period. Just about five minutes into the period, the Ice Dogs struck for their first goal of the game as Caleb Hite found himself loose down the left wing as he fired a snap shot that beat Lonkila over the glove to knot the game at 1-1. Less than three minutes later, the Ice Dogs took their first lead of the game as Luke Mobley crashed the net to poke home a loose puck that Lonkila saved initially, but got turned around and could not find the puck between his legs as he was hugging the post on the goal line. The Ice Dogs kept their foot on the gas as Hite would strike again for his 2nd goal of the game and 5th of the Robertson Cup Playoffs as he got a pass in the corner and walked out front and again fired a snap shot over the glove of Lonkila for a 3-1 lead after two periods.
In the 3rd period, a desperate Minotauros team ramped up the pressure and it paid off with 6:53remaining in regulation as Minot forward Miroslav Mucha wrapped a shot toward the net that went off of Fairbanks goalie Josh Benson for a power play goal as the Minotauros made the score 3-2. Just minutes after Mucha’s goal, a face-off win deep in the Fairbanks zone led to a shot from the point, which was tipped home by Michael Talbot for his second goal of the contest to knot the game at 3-3 late in the 3rd period. Fairbanks thought they had scored the series winner as with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, a face-off win got the puck back to defenseman Nolan Schaeffer, who wristed a shot through traffic and behind Lonkila to make it 4-3 for Fairbanks. Just :30 seconds later, Minot answered back again in similar fashion as a face-off win got the puck back to defenseman Nolan Sawchuk, who shot the puck through traffic and past Benson to tie the game at 4-4 and send it to overtime.
In the overtime, each team had their chances, but an Ice Dogs turnover at center ice on a line change was picked off by Minot forward Ondrej Pavel, who skated in alone and fired the series winner over the glove of Benson. Lonkila made 36 saves in the win for the Minotauros, while Benson made 23 saves in the loss.
The Robertson Cup is awarded to the national playoff champion of the North American Hockey League. The oldest junior hockey trophy in the United States, the Robertson Cup is named in honor of Chuck Robertson, a pioneer of junior hockey in the NAHL and youth hockey in the state of Michigan. Robertson was the owner of the Paddock Pools Saints when they won a record seven straight championships from 1976-83.
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