When the Aberdeen Wings lost to the Austin Bruins on April 15, they lost home-ice advantage to start the 2022 Robertson Cup playoffs.
But they won the following matchup, the final game of the regular season. Then they hit the road to Austin, sweeping the Bruins in the first two games of the Central Division semifinals. And they returned to Aberdeen the following weekend to take a commanding 6-3 win, clinching their spot in the division finals.
Now, the Wings hope to carry that momentum into the finals against an opponent that won’t be decided until Monday night.
The Aberdeen/Austin series was one of just two decided in three games — the other belonged to the Midwest Division’s Anchorage Wolverines taking a 3-0 series win over the Springfield Jr. Blues. The Lone Star Brahmas beat out last year’s national champion, the Shreveport Mudbugs, in a four-game series.
And in the eight semifinal matchups across the North American Hockey League (NAHL), five have been pushed to Game Five. The East Division and Midwest Division will be decided tonight:
- East: Jamestown Rebels vs. Johnstown Tomahawks: 5 p.m. CST
- Midwest: Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. Minnesota Wilderness: 5:30 p.m. CST
- East: Northeast Generals vs. New Jersey Titans: 6 p.m. CST
The Central Division and the South Division will be decided Monday night:
- Central: Bismarck Bobcats vs. St. Cloud Norsemen: 6:30 p.m. CST
- South: Wichita Falls Warriors vs. New Mexico Ice Wolves: 7:30 p.m. CST
Add in the fact that nine games have gone into overtime so far, the parity in each division is clear leading up to the Robertson Cup.
In the three-game series with the Bruins, Aberdeen recorded a league-leading 4.33 goals-for average, scoring 13 goals while allowing Austin seven. They went 3-12 on the power play (25%) and allowed 4-13 on the penalty kill (69.2%).
The Wings have also grabbed two shorthanded goals, one from Jacob Bosse and the other from Owen DuBois. As a unit, they’ve scored four first period goals, three second period goals and a league-leading six third period goals.
Bosse has two goals and two assists so far in the postseason, while Wings captain Kyle Gaffney has four assists to lead scorers for Aberdeen. Anthony Galante (2G,1A), Ronan Walsh (2G, 1A) and Cade Neilson (1G, 2A) each grabbed three points in the three games, and six players — Seamus Campbell, Dominic Schimizzi, Hugo Allais, Devon Carlstrom, Will Gilson and Mason Kelly — grabbed two each.
Bosse and Galante each came out of the series +4, while Devon Carlstrom, Bauer Barry and Hugo Gustafsson each sit at +3. Every skater on the Wings roster is sitting at even or better.
Goaltender Anton Castro has played in all 180 minutes of postseason play so far, turning away 80 of the 87 shots he’s faced, good for a .920 save percentage.