Trail Native Todd Robinson leads Americans into final

“I’m getting a little older now and at a point in my career where championships are very important.” - Todd Robinson

Few might guess that the most prolific point-getter in pro hockey over the past 14 years is not a Sedin, Crosby, Lemieux, or Jagr, but a former Rossland-Trail minor hockey product.

Trail native Todd Robinson scored twice including the game-winning goal as the Allen Americans pulled off a 7-3, Game 7 victory against the Missouri Merchants in Central Hockey League semifinal action Tuesday night.

Allen led the series 3-1, but Missouri tied it up with two straight victories to even the series at three games apiece. However, the top-seeded Americans would not be denied, trouncing the Merchants 7-3 in the final game to send them into the championship President’s Cup against the Wichita Thunder.

Robinson has had a productive playoff, leading the team in scoring and is second overall with three goals and 11 assists in 12 playoff matches.

But that’s not surprising to anyone familiar with the game’s most highly skilled playmaker.

Robinson ranks 20th among minor league hockey players all time in regular season points with 1,255, and over the last 14 seasons has collected more points than any player at any level of pro hockey.

Joe Thornton has the most NHL points over those 14 years with 1,149 and Jaromir Jagr is next with 1,084.

Robinson has scored 331 career goals and set up 924 others and ranks 10th in minor league history in assists, averaging almost 1.4 points per game.

He joined the Americans just over a month ago, after a two-year stint with the Evansville Icemen, of the ECHL, deciding to bid adieu to coach Rich Kromm and Indiana for a sunnier playoff scenario in Allen, Texas.

With Evansville out of the playoff picture, Robinson who is in his 14th season in the minors, joined the Americans in mid-March looking for another championship.

“I’m getting a little older now and at a point in my career where championships are very important,” Robinson told the Dallas Morning News. “I won a few when I was younger, but I haven’t won one in a few years. This is a great opportunity with a great organization to do that.”

Robinson had a successful campaign in Evansville playing under coach and fellow Trail native Kromm. He led the team in scoring, winning the 2012 ECHL scoring title, was named team captain, earned an All-Star Team selection, and was the fifth-leading scorer in the league when he moved to the Texas town in mid-March.

The 34-year-old former Portland Winterhawk left a last-place team for a first-place team, and has since helped Allen dump the Denver Cutthroats in five games in the opening round of the CHL playoffs, followed by  the  Merchants in seven, and is now headed into the final to play for the Ray Miron President’s Cup championship.

He has played 894 games and worn the colors of the Idaho Steelheads, Colorado Gold Kings, Chicago Wolves, Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, Hamilton Bulldogs, Muskegon Fury, Grand Rapids Griffins, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Odessa Jackalopes, Evansville Icemen and now the Americans. He also spent one winter playing hockey in Denmark.

Robinson was also a Memorial Cup winner with the WHL Portland Winterhawks where he shone, leading his team and the league in scoring, yet was overlooked come the NHL entry draft.

“At the time it was heart-breaking,” Robinson said. “I had a successful junior career, and I always thought I’d play in the NHL. That was everyone’s dream. When they don’t come calling, it’s devastating.”

And yet, the five-foot-eight forward’s size hasn’t hindered him in the minors where he is a three-time MVP, led the league in scoring three times, was named to nine all-star teams, and won three championships. His best season came in 2006-07, recording a Muskegon club record and career-best 123-points on 44-goals along with 79-assists.

Despite his unparalleled success, Robinson has never played a game in the NHL.

“The NHL was a different game back then,” Robinson added.

“Size was important. Since then, the game has changed a lot. Now it’s about speed and skill. Back then it was more the bigger guys grinding it out. That was when Eric Lindros was coming into his own and dominating the NHL. That was the way the league was going, and they weren’t drafting the smaller guys.”

In the end, the Trail native has had a very successful career in the minors, and has already achieved legendary status as one of the greatest playmakers ever to play the game.

The  Allen Americans hope the NHL’s loss turns out to be their gain as they begin their final series for the President’s Cup against Wichita on Tuesday.

The Thunder swept its semifinal series against the Fort Worth Brahamas last week.

With files from the Dallas Morning News.