OWATONNA, MN – Fresh off their first weekend off of the 2009-10 season, the Bismarck Bobcats return to Central Division play with a three-game slate featuring two games against the Owatonna Express and a weekend finale against the Albert Lea Thunder.
The bye week was the Bobcats’ was the first time off the defending division champs had enjoyed since before their preseason opener on September 11th—spanning eight straight weeks of games including the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn., and a two-week trip to Alaska.
“The off-weekend came at a nice time for us,” said Bobcats head coach Byron Pool, “we had a lot of guys recovering from injuries and sickness over the past couple weeks and being able to get a little rest with a big three-week stretch coming up was very important.”
In the next three weeks, the Bobcats have nine games and will face all four of their Central Division foes, starting Friday against the division-leading Express.
In two previous meetings in mid-October, the Bobcats compiled a 0-1-1 record at Owatonna, falling 2-0 in regulation on October 16th and then 2-1 in a shootout on the 18th. Express goalie Mike Shibrowski started both games in the series, posting 43 saves and earning NAHL Goalie of the Week honors for his efforts.
“Shibrowski is a really strong goaltender, so we know we have our work cut out for us,” said Bobcat forward Jason Fabian. “We need to create a lot of traffic in front, whether it’s to set screens or be in position to rebound, if we want to do better this time around.”
The 2-0 loss on the 16th remains the only regulation defeat suffered by the ‘Cats in divisional play (4-1-2).
The Bobcats (7-7-4, 18 pts) sit just three points behind the Express (10-4-1, 21 pts) and the North Iowa Outlaws (10-5-1, 21 pts) for the top spot in the Central.
Friday and Saturday’s games at Owatonna begin at 7:00 PM.
Sunday’s 5:30 PM contest is a rematch of the Bobcats’ last series, in which the Bobcats went 1-0-1 against the Thunder in two games at the VFW Sports Center, winning 5-0 on October 30th before a 2-1 shootout defeat on Halloween.
The contest marks the Bobcats’ first visit to Albert Lea of the 2009-10 season. The Thunder, in their second season as an NAHL franchise, have found life after stumbling early out of the gates at 2-13-0. Albert Lea (4-14-1, 9 pts) has picked up points in three of their last four games, going 2-1-1 since Halloween to pull within two points of the fourth-place Alexandria Blizzard (4-7-3, 11 pts).
Casey Kleisinger leads the Bobcat charge offensively, coming into the weekend with six goals and 10 assists for 16 points, while Ryan Faragher (5-3-3, 1.99 GAA, .920 SV%, 3 shutouts) and Ryan Massa (2-4-1, 3.11 GAA, .893 SV%) will likely both see time in net with three games in three days.
All three divisional contests will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts at 6:30 PM on Friday and Saturday and 5:00 PM Sunday.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your Season Tickets, Family Packs and Group Nights today by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.