ABERDEEN, SD – The Bismarck Bobcats will travel to Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen Friday looking to break the 1-1 deadlock in their best-of-five-game Central Division Semifinal against the Aberdeen Wings as the puck drops on Game Three at 7:15 PM.
Fresh off a two-game split at home to open the playoffs, the veteran-laden Bobcats hope to channel a little magic from their surprise 2011 playoff run to the Central Division title.
“When we won the division last year, we were 4-2 on the road,” pointed out third-year Bobcats forward Tyler Richter, who is tied for the team lead in playoff goals with three. “We have a lot of guys on this team who were a part of that last year, and a lot of guys who believe we can get some good wins on the road again this year.”
In order to recapture some of their 2011 road playoff glory, the Bobcats are focusing on discipline heading into Friday’s tilt after serving up four power play goals in their first two playoff contests, including three—with two coming on 5-on-3’s—in Saturday’s 5-3 loss.
The shaky PK weekend left the Bobcats with a 66.7% efficiency rating, placing them in 17th place out of 20 playoff teams.
“First and foremost, we have to stay out of the box, myself included,” stressed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, who took a bench minor and was eventually given a game ejection Saturday, “Aberdeen has too much talent to give them five-minute majors and multiple 5-on-3’s. We feel good about our chances 5-on-5, so we need to stay disciplined to have the best chance to win.”
In all, Aberdeen’s power play accounted for the majority of their opening-weekend offense, pouring in four of their seven goals in Games One and Two.
Another powerful force also combined for the lion’s share of Aberdeen’s offense as their devastating one-two punch of Cory Ward and Steve Obarzanek racked five goals in two nights, including each going for two in Saturday’s win for the Wings—with their linemate Mack Ohnsted chipping in the Wings’ other goal that night.
“Time and space, time and space… we cannot give Ward or Obarzanek any time or space,” lamented Sedevie. “When 17 and 13 are on the ice for Aberdeen we have to know where they are and when they have the puck, we have to be in their face to shut them down.”
The Bobcats’ attack has also been top-heavy, with Richter and Shane Omdahl each contributing three goals and Castan Sommer, Frank DeAugustine, Danny Ray and Buster Hebda each adding one through two games.
And while the Wings’ power play has been a big difference-maker in the series, going 4-for-12, the Cats’ ‘PP’ has nearly kept pace with Aberdeen’s red hot special teams, going 3-for-11.
With Odde Ice Center hosting its first-ever postseason contest Friday, the Bobcats expect an electric atmosphere.
“Aberdeen gets some of the best fan support in the league, behind us, of course” noted Bobcat goalie Tommy Burke, who led all NAHL goalies in wins during the regular season with 31, “and they’ve never had a playoff game before, so it’s going to get crazy down there. But really, we love playing in places like that; the louder the better.”
The winner of Friday’s Game Three will have a chance to close out the series Saturday night when Game Four rolls around at 7:15 PM.
Should no series victor be decided Saturday, the teams will reconvene for a decisive Game Five on Monday back at the VFW Sports Center at 7:15 PM.
Every Bobcat playoff game will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at http://nahl.fasthockey.com. Pregame coverage gets under way at 6:45. Fans can watch Friday’s game—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.