The quest for the Robertson Cup Playoffs for your Wichita Falls Warriors begins in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, as they take on the New Mexico Ice Wolves in the divisional semi-final round.
This round will be a best-of-five series, with the winner needing to take three of the games to advance to the next round.
The Wichita Falls Divisional Semi-Final Round schedule looks like this:
Game 1: Friday, April 22 @ New Mexico, 6:30pm
Game 2: Saturday, April 23 @ New Mexico, 6:30pm
Game 3: Friday, April 29 @ Wichita Falls, 7:15pm
Game 4: Saturday, April 30 @ Wichita Falls, 7:15pm*
Game 5: Monday, May 2 @ New Mexico, 6:30pm*
Wichita Falls is guaranteed to host one game this round.
New Mexico will be making their first playoff appearance in their franchise’s history Friday night. The Ice Wolves improved their points from 47 points last season to an impressive 81 points to claim the second spot in the division.
It will be the second time the Warriors have earned themselves a spot in the Robertson Cup Playoffs in their two-year history. Last year, the Warriors came into the playoffs in the third spot with 67 points; they finished with 78 points this season.
13 Warriors players have playoff experience from their time last season with the team. Look for the Warriors to lean on those lessons from last season.
The altitude is another factor that the Warriors will have to deal with during the series. The Outpost Ice Arenas is 6,000+ feet above sea level.
This match-up will see two of the league’s best goaltenders on the ice in Brandon Milberg and Beni Halasz.
Beni Halasz ended the season 3rd among NAHL goalies with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. His 26 wins in the 43 games he’s played have been a big reason the Ice Wolves have had consistency year-round.
Since coming to Wichita Falls in early December, Brandon Milberg has been the brick wall between the pipes the Warriors have needed. In his 28 games in a Wichita Falls jersey, 20 have been wins. He finished 7th among NAHL goaltenders with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.
Since Milberg’s acquisition, he has a goal against of 2.04 with a .931 save percentage.
Both goaltenders will be a deciding factor in how this series turns out.
Strength vs. Strength
It has been no secret that the power play for the Warriors has been electric. They have scored 27.5% of their chances on the man-advantage and leading the league in the statistic for most of the season.
The Ice Wolves finished the season in the top-5 for penalty killing, with 84.4%. They can be deadly when in short-handed opportunities, scoring a league-leading 15 short-handed goals.
Special teams can often be the difference in close, tight match-ups.
Regular Season Match-up:
Wichita Falls is 4-3-1-0 against New Mexico this season. In the most recent weekend series, the Warriors manage to sweep the Ice Wolves with a 5-0 win and a 4-3 win in overtime, taking the weekend.
Look for William Lawson-Body to have a significant impact in the series. In the eight games played this season, he has four goals and nine assists for thirteen points as he is the Warriors leading scorer against the team.
Dillion Bentley has scored 10 points against the Warriors, with four goals and six assists in his eight games.
Other South Division Match-up:
The South Division and Regular Season Champions, Lone Star, will be hosting Shreveport for their first-round match-up between the first and fourth seed. Lone Star will have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Written by: Scott Masom