Former Grand Forks Central teammates reach Robertson Cup Finals
William Lawson-Body and Blaise Miller won a state title with the Knights in 2019. Now, they're aiming for an NAHL title together, too.
GRAND FORKS — William Lawson-Body made a road trip to Blaine, Minn., last year to attend the Robertson Cup Finals.
He went to cheer on a couple of his old Grand Forks Central High School teammates — Will Howard and Brandon Holt of the New Mexico Ice Wolves — as they tried to win a North American Hockey League championship.
Lawson-Body is going back again this year.
But this time, he's playing.
Lawson-Body and Blaise Miller, teammates on Central's 2019 undefeated state championship squad, have helped the Oklahoma Warriors reach the Robertson Cup Finals.
The Warriors will play the Minnesota Wilderness in a best-of-three semifinal series beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Blaine's Fogerty Arena. Game 2 is set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday. If necessary, Game 3 will be at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Austin (Minn.) and Maryland will play in the other semifinal series.
The semifinal winners will play for the Robertson Cup at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere, I know that for sure," Lawson-Body said. "Seeing the New Mexico boys there last year, I remember I was a little bit jealous of it. It's a great feeling to know I'm going to be able to be there myself, experiencing something like that. It's going to be really good hockey, really fast paced. You're going to see the best out of everyone. Whoever wants it more, whoever can execute the best, will be the last one standing. We want that to be us."
Oklahoma has been the NAHL's best team all season.
The Warriors went 44-14-1-1 in the regular season, finishing with a league-best 90 points.
They are a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs, sweeping Amarillo and Shreveport in best-of-five series to reach the Robertson Cup Finals.
"The coaching staff is second to none," Miller said. "It's one of the best staffs I've ever played for. I love the city. The team we have here is like no other. I've never been on a team this close, especially in junior hockey. It's a pretty special group we have here."
Lawson-Body and Miller, who live together in Oklahoma City, were teammates for two seasons with the Knights. In 2018-19, they helped Central go undefeated and win the North Dakota state title.
"Not often you get to play with someone from your town once you get out of town," Lawson-Body said. "You can't take that for granted. I've enjoyed playing with another Central Knight. Maybe we can bring that state championship pedigree."
Lawson-Body, who served as Central's captain in high school, is again wearing the 'C' for Oklahoma.
Lawson-Body has 16 goals and 48 points in 52 games for the Warriors, despite missing time this season due to a high ankle sprain.
During his three-year NAHL career with the franchise, he's racked up 134 points in 163 games. Lawson-Body is not yet committed to a college, but is hoping to play Division-I hockey somewhere next season.
"I've shown I can be an impact player at the Division-I level," Lawson-Body said. "It's just about having the best performance this weekend, showing all the growth I've had in my game the past three seasons and the past few months since I've come back from the injury. It's putting that all together, going there and winning."
Miller, who played two seasons with the Bismarck Bobcats in the NAHL, was traded before the start of this season.
He scored 14 goals and tallied 23 points in 58 games for the Warriors.
"I was full of excitement and ready to get a new start on a new team and just make something special happen this year — which we've done so far," Miller said. "Hopefully, we can keep it going."
Miller has attended the Robertson Cup Finals as a fan, too.
He attended the 2015 final when his older brother, Jade, played on Austin against the Wilderness.
Austin lost Game 1 in four overtimes on a goal by Billy Exell, later a Minnesota Duluth teammate of Jade's. Austin was eliminated the next day.
"I remember that pretty vividly," Miller said. "That was the only time I ever attended one."
Last season, the Central alums and New Mexico were knocked out by New Jersey in double overtime in a decisive third game of a semifinal series. New Jersey went on to win the title.
This year, the former Knights will try to script a different ending with the Warriors.
"We've been the best team in the entire league all season," Lawson-Body said. "We want to show who we are."
NAHL Robertson Cup Finals
Fogerty Ice Arena, Blaine, Minn.
Oklahoma vs. Minnesota, 4:30 p.m. Friday, 4:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).
Maryland vs. Austin (Minn.), 7:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).
Championship, single game
7 p.m. Tuesday.