ALEXANDRIA, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats will make their first visit to the Runestone Center to take on the Alexandria Blizzard since the Cats upset the top-seeded Blizzard in the 2011 Central Division Semifinals this past April when they show down Saturday at 7:30 PM.
“There is plenty of history between these two franchises, that’s for sure,” conceded Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose team has eliminated Alexandria from the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. “When you say ‘Bobcats vs. Blizzard,’ you don’t have to say much else to get ready. This matchup has made itself into a premier rivalry in the Central division over the years.”
The 2011 playoff epic featured a full five games, two blowouts, a line brawl and a last-minute, series-winning goal by Bobcats assistant captain Emerson Auvenshine (now at UMass) against former teammate Jake Williams (now at Mercyhurst).
Nineteen players that took part in last year’s opening round series will be on the ice for Saturday’s rematch—though a few players have changed sides as the Cats traded blueliners Rodney LaLonde and Charlie Aus to the Blizzard for forward Adam Knochenmus in late September.
“Going back [to the Runestone Center] and wearing black and gold instead of green and blue is definitely going to be different,” admitted Knochenmus, who has eight points in his last eight games and three goals and nine assists in 14 total games with the Bobcats, “but it’s also exciting. I know I’ll have some fans down from my hometown [of nearby Roseau, Minn.] so I am expecting a fun night.”
Alexandria has hit a big hot streak of late to rocket to second place in the Central, tearing off a record of 9-3-0 since the Bobcats handed them a 9-3 drubbing on September 24th that dropped the Blizzard to 1-3-1 to open the 2011-12 campaign.
The recent success of the Blizzard is due in large part not only to the acquisition of Aus and LaLonde—who have combined for 9 points and a +8 rating since their arrival—but also to the re-acquisition of 2010-11 netminder Jacob Meyers. In eight starts since returning to the Blizzard, Meyers is 6-2-0 with an impressive 1.74 GAA and .932 SV%.
“To think that this is the same Alexandria team we beat by six goals two months ago would be a huge mistake,” stressed Sedevie, “they are greatly improved and if our guys aren’t ready to go right when that first puck drops, it’ll be a long, long night.”
Balance continues to key the Bobcat attack as thirteen players boast double-digit point totals, with Castan Sommer (25), Shane Omdahl (23), Frank DeAugustine (23) and Dan Zawacki (22) all averaging over a point-per-game through the first third of the season. Goalie Tommy Burke currently sits in third in the NAHL with 11 wins and has recently improved his GAA to 2.61 and his SV% to .909.
Saturday’s contest—the Cats’ only game this weekend—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 7:00. Fans can watch the game—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 now on sale for the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email email@example.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for this season!