By Mason Lyttle
FAIRBANKS, AK — Veterans stepped up for the Jets Saturday night as Janesville downed the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 5-2, to win the Midwest Division Finals and punch their ticket to the Robertson Cup Final Four in Duluth, Minnesota.
After swallowing their first playoff loss of the season in Game 3, the Jets came out early in Game 4 and popped the Ice Dogs in the mouth with a Jack Gates snipe less than three minutes in. Fairbanks’ Grayson Gavin equalized, but only a minute later did the Jets earn an offensive zone draw, where Kip Hoffmann threw a seeing-eye shot through traffic for the 2-1 lead. Later in the period, Hoffmann and Michael Maloney worked a give-and-go play to perfection as Maloney buried one for a 3-1 lead. In the period’s dying seconds, Bauer Neudecker potted the frame’s fifth goal to keep Fairbanks within a goal.
Midway through the second, with Fairbanks defenseman Luke Orysiuk in the box, Peter Bates snuck behind the goal line, grabbed a loose puck, and wrapped in a goal for the 4-2 lead.
The Jets stifled the Ice Dogs’ desperation attempts in the final half of the game, surrendering just 6 shots in the 2nd period and 5 in the 3rd. Hoffmann picked up the empty-netter for his seventh of the postseason to seal the Jets’ second ever placement in the Robertson Cup Semifinals.
Jake Barczewski stopped 18 of 20 shots in the winning effort, opposite Erik Gordon, who made 25 saves on 29 shots as the Ice Dogs closed their season.
The 2017 Robertson Cup National Championship will be played at the Essentia Health Duluth Heritage Center in Duluth, Minnesota. The games begin Thursday with the two Semifinals series.
All Jets games at the Robertson Cup Championship Weekend will be broadcast live on HockeyTV.com with the Jets’ call of Mason Lyttle and Kevin Meegan. All advancing teams will re-seed to determine pairings. As of Saturday night, the South Division’s Lone Star Brahmas are the only other team to have advanced to Duluth.
Click here for more on tickets, hotels, and scheduling for the Robertson Cup Championship Weekend.