AUSTIN, MN–Another rough offensive night for the Bobcats saw the Austin Bruins emerge from the first collision of NAHL Central Division heavyweights with a weekend sweep.
Austin’s Trey Dodd broke up 50 minutes of scoreless hockey by wheeling and firing a centering pass that was knocked down by traffic, beating the glove hand of Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) for the lone score in a 1-0 Bruin win Saturday night at Riverside Arena in Austin.
The win capped a four-point weekend for the Bruins (14-4-0) from the Bobcats (10-5-1), and moved Austin to 28 points in the Central division, seven ahead of Bismarck.
Dodd’s goal looked to be a backbreaker after tension mounted toward the first score throughout. However the Bobcats had opportunities to tie late, as Austin was penalized twice after the goal. The disappointing offense was augmented by six scoreless chances with the Bobcat man advantage.
"We just are not getting pucks to the gritty area right now," said Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie. Our shots are being knocked down, and we’re not changing angles with the stick. We know what we have to work on, but now we have to see improvement."
The first two periods set the tone for a physical, defensive night, as neither team capitalized on nine total power plays, four by each team. Bismarck managed just eight shots in the first 40 minutes, and the teams combined for just 23 total attempts.
Tanner Salsberry (Plainfield, IL) and Mason Van Tuyl (Champlin Park, MN) highlighted the hitting game for the Bobcats, with Van Tuyl sending a Bruin into the Bobcat bench in the second, then decimating another into a corner later in the frame. Salsberry registered the poential hit of the season in the third, meeting Guillome LeClerc with a shoulder that knocked LeClerc a stride backward and straight to the surface.
The bench came alive on a potential tying goal by the Bobcats on a rebounded puck knocked in from mid-air in the third, but officials immediately waived off the score on a high-sticking call. Bruin goalie Nick Lehr stopped 17 shots for the second consecutive shutout of the Bobcats. Bismarck has now lost three in a row.
The Bobcats return home Friday night to face Minot at the VFW Sports Center, their first home game in five outings.