BISMARCK, ND–As the new year begins, the Bobcats will hit the road in search of finding their January stride.
The Bismarck Bobcats face Brookings Friday and Saturday at the Larson Ice Center in Brookings. It’s a long road trip sandwiched between four-game home stands. The Bobcats are hoping the road leads to results that keep them among the leaders in the NAHL Central Division.
After dropping three of four at home, the Bobcats fell to third place in the division, but just two points behind first-place Austin, and one behind Aberdeen. With a record of 19-10-3, the next five games will be crucial for the Bobcats, as four of those find Brookings, the last-place team in the central, as their opponent.
But Brookings has proven to be no typical last-place team. A lack of bounces has left the team with seven overtime losses, five of those in shootouts, for a 10-17-7 record. The Blizzard have managed to pick up points in the standings in their last four games.
Of the Blizzard’s 10 wins this season, four have come at the hands of first-place Austin, and one over the Bobcats. Add to it a trade that brought Connor Girard to the Blizzard’s pipes from the USHL, and Brookings is making a case as a potential playoff team.
“They are one of the hottest teams in our division right now, and there are no easy games down there,” said Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie of this weekend’s opponent. “They have good goaltending, and we need to play well to get wins.”
Bismarck has had success in the series, however. The Bobcats have claimed four of the five meetings this season, including the last three, and all of those by multiple-goal figures. Bismarck swept Brookings in a home-and-home series during the last meeting, taking a 4-1 win in Bismarck Friday, December 6th, then a 3-1 decision at Brookings the next night.
The leaders for the Bobcats in the series have been the veterans. Matt Anders (Lafayette, CO) has two goals and three assists, Stanislav Dzakhov (Moscow, Russia) has three goals and one assist, and Nate Repensky (Duluth, MN) has two goals and two assists in the series.
Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) has worked all five meetings this season, and has sparkled with a 1.57 goals against average and a .952 saves percentage.
Since becoming the leading backstop for the Blizzard, Girard has a 2.41 goals against average, but the Bobcats are averaging 3.50 against him. Jared Goudreau and Russ Jordan co-lead the Blizzard against the Bobcats, each with two goals and an assist.
Faceoff both nights is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Pregame coverage will begin at 6:50 p.m. on Supertalk 1270 KLXX.