CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI — We’re dancing.
The Chippewa Steel punch their ticket to the 2023 Robertson Cup Playoffs with a win over Fairbanks on Saturday night. This marks the Steel’s first appearance in the Robertson Cup Playoffs. They were slated to make it in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the NAHL season.
A playoff berth is an important milestone for its players, staff, and community. It’s been one of the organization’s primary goals since the puck dropped on the 2022-23 season.
The road to the playoffs has been far from easy. Despite the Steel’s early success, they battled serious adversity between Dec. 15 – Feb 3. They slipped to seventh in the Midwest Division standings after going winless in eight out of nine games.
Since the calendar flipped to February, the Steel have been on an impressive charge back up the standings. They are 14-5-2 in their last 21 games. This includes going 7-0-1 at home during that stretch.
While the opponent is not yet decided, the Steel will either play the Minnesota WIlderness or the division winning Wisconsin Windigo in round one.
Many Steel fans are pumped about the opportunity to host home playoff games. Rounds one and two will be a best-of-five series. The Steel, the lower seed, will play game’s one and two on the road. Game 3 is guaranteed at Chippewa Area Ice Arena. Game 4 (if necessary) will also be at home while Game 5 (if necessary) will be away. The full playoff format can be found here.
Like most playoff teams, it has been a collective effort by its players and staff to clinch a postseason spot. Head Coach Casey Mignone and Assistant Coach Steve Dougherty have instilled a winning culture. The players, each with an important role, have carried that out.
Sam Rice and Kade Nielsen have been lethal and dynamic offensively for the Steel. Rice has 58 points in 57 games while Nielsen is not far behind with 56 points. In net, Adam Gajan and Carter Wishart have split time, each with their fair share of hot stretches. Gajan won the NAHL’s Goalie of the Month in February and March while Wishart has a .938 save percentage over his last three starts.
Over the course of the season, Chippewa Valley has shown its incredible support. The team mantra has been to “Rally The Valley” which encourages fans to pack Chippewa Area Ice Arena in support. Not only has attendance improved, but the atmosphere has made a difference. With the playoff berth, the Steel are calling for the loudest environments in our history.
Specific dates of playoff games have yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, the Steel will conclude the regular season at home on April 14th and 15th against the Minnesota Wilderness. Follow our social media and re-visit our website for updates.
Stay connected during the season by following the Steel @chippewasteel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online at chippewasteelhockey.com.
The Chippewa Steel are members of the NAHL which is the oldest and largest junior hockey league of its kind in the United States and one of only two USA Hockey-certified leagues that operate under the non pay-to-play model. The NAHL is also one of the best at advancing players to NCAA and professional hockey. All league games are viewable via HockeyTV. For more information, visit chippewasteelhockey.com.