BISMARCK, ND–With a third of the season left, the Bismarck Bobcats head on the road to Austin this weekend for what could be a pivotal two-games series.
Entering weekend play, the Bobcats trail Austin by five points for the NAHL Central Division lead, and have a six-point edge on Aberdeen for the second-place position.
Two wins by the Bobcats could propel them to just a one-point deficit. Two losses could put them nine out.
“It’s a big weekend, and we know that,” said Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie about the trip. “It’s a weekend where we will need to stay disciplined and get a good start.”
The Bobcats and Bruins have split their season series, with three of the four games the loser shut out. Austin earned wins of 3-0 and 1-0 in Austin on November 8th and 9th, respectively. Bismarck rallied at the end of the month, winning 4-0 at home on the 28th, then surviving a 4-3 shootout the next night.
Austin has two main weapons that jump off the statistics page. The first is high-scoring Jay Dickman, a massive frame at 6’6” and 225 pounds that has scored 18 goals and registered 43 points this season, a number third-best in the NAHL.
The second is Nick Lehr, the Bruin backstopper with a 24-8-1 record and the fourth-best goals against average (1.80) in the NAHL. Only Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) has logged more minutes between the pipes this season, with Nelson working 2214:08, and Lehr logging 1969:31.
Nelson currently sports a 2.30 goals against average and a .914 saves percentage. “The weekend will display some great goaltending, no question,” Sedevie added to his preview.
Despite Lehr’s impressive numbers, the Bobcats own both of their victories over the Bruins this season against him. Relief goalie Justin Quale earned a shutout over Bismarck in Austin.
After a three-goal weekend, Bobcat forward Stanislav Dzakhov (Moscow, Russia) leads the Bobcats in scoring with 35 points, and is ninth in the NAHL, with his 19 goals third-best in the league.
Friday and Saturday night each have a 7:05 p.m. scheduled faceoff. The games will be heard on Supertalk 1270 KLXX, with pregame coverage beginning at 6:40 p.m. Fans can also watch the broadcast through our website, www.bismarckbobcats.com, distributed through FastHockey.