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Bellissimo

Monday Roundup: Batna Starts Hot at World Juniors; Salsberry Claims Weekly Honor
 
Last Week:
Friday, December 12: Bobcats 5, Wings 4
Saturday, December 13: Minotauros 5, Bobcats 4
This Week:
Friday, December 19: Bobcats at Minotauros, Maysa Arena, 7:35pm
Saturday, December 20: Bobcats at Wings, Odde Ice Center, 7:15pm
 
Batna, Latvia Undefeated at World Juniors
 
ASIAGO, ITALY – After two days of games in Division I, Group A, at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships, Bismarck Bobcats center Oskars Batna has put up three points for Team Latvia, who hold a 2-0-0 after Monday’s action.
 
Batna, serving as Latvia’s captain in the international Under-20 tournament, chipped in a pair of assists in Sunday’s 5-1 thumping of Austria then put an exclamation point on a 7-3 come-from-behind win Monday with a late goal against Slovenia.
 
“Our team is playing well,” assessed Batna, who also played all five games at last year’s WJC as the Latvians finished one game shy of winning Group A. “We have a lot of young and talented players and we’ve got great chemistry and team spirit.”
 
For his goal, leadership and physical play, the Bobcat rookie was named “Best Player of the Game” Monday against Slovenia.
 
His three points rank seventh overall in Group A, and Latvia sits in first place in the pool—tied with Belarus and Norway, but leading the goal differential at plus-8.
 
Latvia will take Tuesday off before a big tilt against the 2-0-0 Belorussians.
 
“Wednesday’s game will be a tough test; Belarus is a very good team,” noted Batna, “but we will be ready.”
 
The NAHL is well-represented on the Latvian roster, as well: Batna is joined by fellow North American Leaguers Bruno Birzitis (Soo Eagles), Kristofers Bindulis (Soo Eagles) and Janis Jaks (Minnesota Wilderness).
 
Big Returns
 
With two goals and an assist—including a thrilling power-play goal that capped a four-score rally Saturday at home—Bobcat blueliner Tanner Salsberry was named Central Division Star of the Week Monday.
 
Salsberry becomes the first defenseman to earn the Central’s first star in 2014-15.
 
“Tanner has been one of those players that has developed into a very good defenseman over his time in the NAHL,” hailed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “We put him in a role he wasn’t used to last year and he has taken that opportunity and ran with it. He is an important part of our special teams and overall team success this season.”
 
In 12 games since returning to the Cats in early November, the Plainfield, Ill., native has six goals—most among Bobcat defenders—and four assists.
 
Co-captain Cullen Willox earned honorable mention for Star of the Week honors, posting a shorthanded goal and three assists to extend his point streak to four games.
 
Alumni Update
 
With the 2014-15 season heading toward Christmas, 12 former Bobcats found their way onto the score sheet in the collegiate and professional ranks while another went unbeaten in net over the second week of December.
 
Bismarck native Tommy Malkmus (2013-14) led all collegiate alumni in scoring on the weekend, notching a goal and two assists for Finlandia—coached by former Bobcat head coach Dane Litke—as the Lions went 1-0-1 against Aurora.
 
2009-10 goalie Ryan Massa picked up both wins in net for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, making a combined 71 saves in the Mavericks’ home conference sweep of St. Cloud State.
 
Other collegiate point-getters among Bobcat alums include: Bryce Schmitt (1g, 1a, Lake Superior State); Nick Miglio (1g, 1a, Utica); Patrick Moore (1g, 1a, UW-Eau Claire); Blake Hietala (2a, Michigan Tech); Dominic Panetta (1g, Ferris State); Charlie Mosey (1g, Dartmouth); Mike Fazio (1g, UW-River Falls); Charlie Aus (1a, Concordia [MN]); Mike Dockry (1a, St. Thomas).
 
It was a multi-point week in the SPHL for a pair of former Cats, as Shawn Skelly (2006-07) popped in two goals and added an assist for the Louisiana IceGators while Nick Schneider (2004-05) contributed a pair of assists for the Peoria Riverman.
 
Coming Up
 
The Bobcats will head into the Christmas break with a pair of road games, starting Friday at Maysa Arena against the Minot Minotauros before heading south to face the Aberdeen Wings Saturday at the Odde Ice Center.
 
Live coverage of Friday’s intrastate road showdown will begin at 7:05pm 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.
 
Though the 2014-15 season is now under way, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!