Before the Countdown

Bobcats to Close 2015 with Minot Home-and-Home

Matchups: Bismarck Bobcats (14-12-1, 5th Central) vs Minot Minotauros (16-11-3, T-1st Central)
Games: Wednesday, December 30, 7:05pm; Thursday, December 31, 7:15pm
Venue: Maysa Arena, Minot, N.D.; VFW Sports Center, Bismarck, N.D.
Season Series: Minotauros lead Bobcats 3-2-0
All-Time: Bobcats lead Minotauros 33-15-4
Radio: SuperTalk 1270 AM, SuperTalk1270.com and the radioPup smartphone app, 6:35pm Wednesday; 6:45pm Thursday
Internet TV: http://NAHL.FASTHockey.com, 6:35pm Wednesday; 6:45pm Thursday

MINOT, ND – Refreshed from their longest layoff of the season, the Bismarck Bobcats will wrap up 2015 with a two-game home-and-home series with the archrival Minot Minotauros starting Wednesday at Maysa Arena.

Minot currently holds a 3-2-0 edge in the 2015-16 season series after escaping a Bobcat rally on December 18 at the Maysa with a 4-2 home victory. The Battle of Highway 83 has been particularly close in its fifth year: the two squads are deadlocked at 15 total goals per side through five meetings.

“When we play Minot it’s always intense and tight games, but it’s gone to another level this season,” admitted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose team is 1-2-0 at the Maysa on the current campaign. “It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but that’s what you get when you have two good teams in the middle of this kind of rivalry.”

Such tension will only be elevated by the density of the Central Division standings: coming out of the Christmas break, the Bobcats sit in fifth place—out of playoff position—at 14-12-1 yet find themselves behind the front-running Minotauros and Austin Bruins by a mere six points.

Thanks to a season-high offensive output in a 7-1 win at Aberdeen on December 19 after beating the Bobcats the previous night, Minot comes into Wednesday with a head of steam, led by a combined six goals and seven assists in the last five games from Christian Mohs and Zack Bross up front.

Goalie Lucas Murray has stepped up his game against the Cats: presiding over all three Minotauro wins in the season series with an even 2.00 GAA in four appearances against the Black and Gold—well below his overall 2.36 average.

The Bobcats, meanwhile, welcome back Norwegian winger Tobias Fladeby for the home-and-home set after five games absent while playing for Team Norway at the 2016 World Junior Championships. In four games at World Juniors, Fladeby had two assists with a plus-5 rating for the Norwegians, who finished third in Division I, Group A. In his only appearance with the Bobcats in December, the Asker, Norway, native had two goals and an assist in a 4-2 win over the Minotauros.

In contrast to Murray, Bobcat netminder Hunter Shepard’s numbers—14-8-0 overall with a 2.25 GAA and .915 SV%—have taken a hit against the Minotauros, with a 2.83 GAA and a .902 SV% when facing Minot.

When the series shifts to the VFW Sports Center for Thursday’s contest, the Bobcats will host their annual New Year’s Eve Party, with special New Year’s 2016 jerseys that will be auctioned following the game and Farmer’s Union Insured Win Night—where all fans in Section 13 will receive a free ticket for a future home game if the Bobcats are able to win.

Tickets are on sale now for Thursday’s New Year’s Eve Party: fans can buy and print tickets 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com, by clicking “Shop Now” on the team Facebook page or charge-by-phone at 222-3300.

Wednesday’s iteration of the Battle of Highway 83 will be broadcast live locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com—the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League—with pregame coverage starting at 7:05pm.

Season tickets are still on sale for the 2015-16 season at a pro-rated price; if you want to beat the rush of over 40,000 fans for this year, now is the time! Call 222-3300 to reserve your seats today.