Go Time

BISMARCK, ND – Fresh off of bouncing the archrival Aberdeen Wings from the 2012 Robertson Cup Playoffs, the Bismarck Bobcats are back at the VFW Sports Center to open up the Central Division Finals against the Austin Bruins with Game One coming Friday, followed by Game Two Saturday.

In their 12-game regular season series, the Bobcats went 7-4-1 against the Bruins but dropped their final three contests, including the only weekend sweep suffered by the top-seeded Cats when they were bounced in consecutive contests March 23 and 24 at Riverside Arena.

“The last three games against Austin are something where it’s a funny combination of not worrying about the outcome while also being excited to get another shot at them,” explained Bobcats forward Adam Knochenmus, who scored three goals and added three assists to lead the Cats in scoring in the opening round of the postseason. “There’s nothing we can do about how those games turned out, but there’s still a lot we can learn from those games.”

Austin will present a starkly different challenge from the Wings as the Bruins are a more defensively oriented team, giving up 0.25 fewer goals per game during the regular season than Aberdeen on the backs of defensive stalwarts Christian Folin (+45) and Trevor Waldoch (+34) and veteran goalie Tyler Bruggeman (2.46 GAA, .922 SV%).

The Bruins’ penalty kill, which finished seventh league-wide in the regular season with an 85.6% efficiency rating, is also a different look for the Bobcat power play.

“Aberdeen was more shot-block oriented while Austin pressures hard,” noted second-year Bobcat defender John Furgele, who tallied four assists in the Division Semifinals, “so we have to make good decisions with the puck but also move it quickly. It will be a fun challenge for us.”

Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie has indicated that he will go back to Aaron Nelson in net for Game One after the Century High product turned in 59 saves with a 1.50 GAA and a .958 SV% in winning Games Three and Four against Aberdeen.

“It’s a good problem to have, having two goalies [in Nelson and Tommy Burke] that you can rely on as a coach,” assessed Sedevie, who started Burke in the first two games of the Central Division Semifinals, which the Bobcats split with the Wings despite 57 saves from the second-year goalie. “We’ve seen in the last few years that having two reliable goalies can take you far in the NAHL playoffs.”

As assistant coach under Byron Pool, Sedevie leaned on the tandem of Ryan Faragher and Jake Williams during the Cats’ 2010 title run and then Faragher and Burke as head coach en route to the 2011 Central Division crown. Pool also rode the pairing of David Bosner and Matt Grogan to the Robertson Cup Tournament in the 2009 playoffs.

The curtain rises on the 2012 Central Division Finals at 7:15 PM Friday night when the puck drops for the Bobcats and Bruins, with Game Two to follow at the same time Saturday.

Friday’s series opener 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.

Playoff tickets for the Bobcats’ second-round matchup with Austin are now on sale for Game One April 20 and Game Two April 21! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats or buy and print your playoff tickets online now at BismarckBobcats.com!