BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats are preparing for a two-game weekend showdown at the V.F.W. Sports Center against the up-and-coming Albert Lea Thunder, starting on Friday.
The Thunder enter the weekend on a two-game winning streak after notching wins of 5-1 over the North Division’s Janesville Jets and then 4-1 over the North Iowa Outlaws to pull within six points of the Outlaws for the Central’s fourth and final playoff spot.
“I’ve really got to tip my hat to [Thunder head coach] Chuck [Linkenheld],” said Bobcats head coach Byron Pool. “He’s done so much to change the entire culture in that organization and put them on track to not only be a spoiler but seriously contend for a playoff spot in the last two months of the season.”
Led by the likes of Top Prospects Tournament selections Derek Docken—who committed earlier this week to the University of Alaska-Anchorage—and Brian Nehring (6 G, 16 A), the Thunder have fared the best against the Bobcats among any Central Division team with a 2-3-0 record (.400 winning pct.) in five games between the two sides, including a 7-3 win over the ‘Cats on December 11th.
“Albert Lea is a very dangerous team,” noted Bobcats forward Bryce Schmitt, “because they have the potential to come out on any night and blow out any team in the league. They’ve got a lot of offensive talent and can strike quickly.”
On the other side, the Bobcats enter the weekend on a three-game winning streak after piling up victories over Alexandria, Owatonna and North Iowa and have extended their lead in the Central to nine points over the second-place Express.
The ‘Cats are paced up front by assistant captain Jason Fabian, whose 43 points (16-27-35) have him at fifth in scoring league-wide, along with Dominic Panetta (18-19-37) and Casey Kleisinger (15-22-37).
Between the pipes, the Bobcats are anchored by goalies Ryan Faragher (16-5-6, 2.24 GAA, .915 GAA) and Jake Williams (5-4-0, 2.92, .911); Thunder netminder Joe Rogers (8-12-2, 3.65, .896) has helped pace the Albert Lea’s resurgence in the playoff hunt.
The series opens Friday with a 7:15 PM contest at the VFW Sports Center; the game is being billed as “80’s Night,” with fans who dress up in their best 1980’s garb receiving a free beer from 6:45 until the opening puck drop.
Friday’s game 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 6:45 PM.
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.