Meet the Contenders

AUSTIN, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats will face their toughest road test of the season as they will play three games in three nights: Friday and Saturday against the Austin Bruins and Sunday against the red-hot Alexandria Blizzard.

The Bruins have presented one of the greatest challenges to the Bobcats so far this year, as they stand as the only team to defeat the Cats: more than once, in overtime or at the VFW Sports Center.

“Austin has a great mix of skill and toughness along with one of the best goalies in the Central Division in Tyler Bruggeman,” explained Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “They’re a team built to succeed as the season gets into its late stages and we’ll need our best games if we want to win at Riverside Arena.”

Bruggeman, selected to Team Central for the 2012 Top Prospects Tournament along with Bobcat goalie Tommy Burke, has turned in an impressive 2011-12 run with a record of 18-7-2 with a 2.22 GAA and a .928 SV%.

Up front the Bruins are paced by a balanced attack of Brandon Wahlin, Charlie Adams, John Simonson and John Kirby, who each have over 20 points along with blueliner Christian Folin, who has 22.

The Bruins, who could seal their first-ever playoff spot with a win Friday or a Minot loss, are in need of a surge in the standings in order to keep pace with the hard-charging Blizzard for second place and home ice advantage in the first round of the Central Division playoffs; Alexandria now sits six points ahead of the Bruins.

For the Blizzard, the defending regular season Central champs have pulled within 11 points of the Bobcats for first place in the division thanks to a win streak of ten games, tying them for the league-wide season high in that category.

Stinging from their 6-4 loss Saturday that halted their own win streak at eight at the Runestone Center against Alexandria, the Bobcats will make their return to western Minnesota with revenge on their minds.

If the front-running Cats want to get back at the Blizzard, however, Sedevie warns that there needs to be a dramatic shift in priorities from Saturday’s setback.

“We need to re-commit to our own [defensive] zone,” stressed Sedevie, whose team had not surrendered more than five goals in any one game prior to Saturday. “Our effort defensively was not acceptable in Alexandria and our defensemen need to play much smarter—much simpler—if we want a better result this time around.”

Friday and Saturday’s games are scheduled for a 7:05 PM puck drop against the Bruins while Sunday’s game will get a slightly earlier start at 5:00 PM in Alexandria.

All three away contests 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 30 minutes before each game. Fans can watch the games—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.

Season tickets are still available for the second half of the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email gobobcathockey@aol.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!