In just the second season for the franchise, the Shreveport Mudbugs claimed their first ever NAHL Robertson Cup title on Monday night with a 2-1 victory over the Minot Minotauros.
Minot struck first in the decisive title game, getting a goal from Nolan Sawchuk on a wrist shot through traffic at 9:31 of the first period. But after surviving a rough stretch in the latter half of the period to get to the locker room down only 1-0, Shreveport began to take control of the game.
The Mudbugs kept the puck in the Minot zone for long stretches of the second period, as they had done for much of the tournament, and were finally rewarded when a Brendan VanSweden shot from just above the top of the circles went past Minot goalie Samu Lonkila, who never saw the shot to tie the game.
They would get another bounce early in the third period to take the lead when Dominick Procopio’s shot from the left point was deflected by Cole Quisenberry over the glove of Lonkila to give Shreveport a 2-1 lead.
From there, a suffocating defensive effort and a few key stops by Shreveport goalie Jaxon Castor in the game’s waning moments was enough to make Quisenberry’s goal stand as the winner and give the Mudbugs the title.
Castor made 15 saves in the victory and was named the Robertson Cup’s MVP.
Notes and Thoughts
-There’s nothing really pretty about this Shreveport team except for the trophy that they won. They’re a testament to the power of Corsi. When people complain about the flaws with counting shot attempts, it’s usually that there is no caveat for taking shot quality into account. But this Shreveport team showed that as long as you play with the puck in the other team’s end long enough, the puck is eventually going to bounce into the other team’s net. They didn’t generate a lot of great chances, and there’s not a lot of offensive skill on their team, but they kept Minot bottled up in their own zone for long stretches of the game by winning races and being tougher on the puck. And it paid off with a pair of pedestrian-looking shots being deflected in traffic and into the net.
There’s some limitations there; Shreveport only scored two goals in all three of their games in this tournament. But you also don’t need to score a lot of goals when the other team never has the puck in your end. Two goals should be enough to win when you only allow 16 shots on goal, as Shreveport did tonight. Minot got eight shots on goal in the first period, and had five shots in the final few minutes of the game, which meant they only had three shots on goal over a stretch of more than half of the game.
-The All-Tournament Team:
All-Tourney Team:— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) May 15, 2018
F-Ryan Burnett, Shreveport
F-Miroslav Mucha, Minot
F-Brandon VanSweden, Shreveport
D-Nolan Sawchuk, Minot
D-Dominick Procopio, Shreveport
G-Jaxon Castor, Shreveport
Definitely agree with all of these, except for maybe Castor as the MVP, since I thought the goal he did allow was a little soft and as I mentioned above, he didn’t really have to do a lot.
The best player of the weekend for me was Procopio, who was an absolute horse on defense, followed by Sawchuk, who was nearly as good. Both are committed to UMass Lowell, and it looks like the River Hawks got a couple steals.
-Fogerty Arena seemed to work extremely well as a host for this event. Everything I heard over the weekend was very positive. A slightly smaller building made for a really fun atmosphere, especially with the rowdy Shreveport fans, and a decent-sized contingent of friends and family supporting Minot. It felt like a championship atmosphere tonight. Hopefully Fogerty’s partnership with the NAHL continues in the future.
9:31 Nolan Sawchuk from Ondrej Pavel 1-0 Minot
Sawchuk took a low wrist shot from the left point that made it through traffic and snuck underneath the pad of Jaxon Castor.
The @MinotauroHockey strike first! A shot from the point by Nolan Sawchuk finds its way through traffic and Minot leads 1-0 in the #NAHL #RobertsonCup National Championship Game. pic.twitter.com/BFSGnnc88n— NAHL (@NAHLHockey) May 15, 2018
Brendan VanSweden from Robert Baranovskis and Nikolai Jenson 1-1 tie
VanSweden carried the puck into the zone down the right wing. He stopped inside the blue line and took a wrist shot that Lonkila never saw due to traffic in front of him.
TIE GAME!!! A seeing-eye shot through bodies by @mudbugshockey forward Brendan VanSweden finds the back of the net and we are tied 1-1 in the 2nd period of the #NAHL #RobertsonCup National Championship Game. pic.twitter.com/yu3BDYzRpD— NAHL (@NAHLHockey) May 15, 2018
3:28 Cole Quisenberry from Dominick Procopio and Ryan Burnett 2-1
Procopio took a wrist shot from the left point that was tipped by Quisenberry in front of the net and his deflection went over the glove of Lonkila