Oklahoma Warriors crowned 2023 Robertson Cup Champions
The Oklahoma Warriors claimed first ever NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship as they scored a power play goal late in the 3rd period to defeat the Austin Bruins in front of a sold-out crowd at Fogerty Arena on Tuesday night by a score of 4-3.
The Bruins got off to a fast start, energized by the largely partisan crowd, as Isaak Brassard got the Central champs on the board first as he scored on a rebound on his own breakaway to make it a 1-0 contest just 7:31 into the game. The Warriors would have an answer four minutes later as forward Rylan Brady scored his first goal of the Robertson Cup Playoff as he one-timed a shot from the mid slot after a pass from behind the net to make it 1-1, which is how the period would end.
The 2nd period saw the Warriors take their first lead of the night as just about five minutes into the game Brendan Williams got a nice pass on a 3-on-2 rush and buried a shot past Bruins goal Trent Wiemken for a 2-1 lead. Five minutes later, the Warriors went up 3-1 as a 2-on-1 rush saw Brady feed a nice dish over to Blaise Miller, who one-timed a blast in the upper corner past an outstretched Wiemken for his first goal of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. The Bruins would turn the tide later in the period as they cut the Warriors lead down to 3-2 thanks to a power play goal from Josh Giuliani, who pounced on a rebound for his 4th goal of the post-season. With less than a minute remaining in the 2nd period, the Bruins tied the game at 3-3 as Walter Zacher was left open in the slot and first a shot past Warriors goalie Daniel Duris for his 9th goal of the Playoffs and third goal of the Robertson Cup Championship.
In the 3rd period, neither team was willing to give an inch until late in the contest when Oklahoma took advantage of a power play as defenseman Garrett Horsager rocketed a slap shot from the point that found the net for a 4-3 lead. With under two minutes remaining in the game, Austin had a power play and pulled Wiemken for a 6-on-4 advantage, but Duris and the Warriors stood tall with several saves and blocked shots as time run out and the Warriors claimed their first ever Robertson Cup Championship. Duris stopped 34 of 37 shots in the win, while Wiemken stopped 19 of 23 shots.
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. This marks the 48th season the NAHL has awarded the cup.
2023 NAHL Robertson Cup All-Tournament Team
Forward and MVP: Brendan Williams, Oklahoma Warriors
Forward: Walter Zacher, Austin Bruins
Forward: William Lawson-Body, Oklahoma Warriors
Defense: Jack Malinski, Austin Bruins
Defense: Owen Baumgartner, Oklahoma Warriors
Goaltender: Daniel Duris, Oklahoma Warriors