Bobcats Set for Playoff Opener with Brookings
BISMARCK, ND – For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Bismarck Bobcats will open the Robertson Cup Playoffs at the VFW Sports Center as they host the third-place Brookings Blizzard for Games One and Two of the best-of-five games Central Division Semifinals Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Thanks to the NAHL’s new play-in round for the North Division, the Central playoffs—customarily the first two weekends of April—are getting off to a delayed start.
“We’ve been off for a week and a half so a lot of us are chomping at the bit,” related Bobcats assistant captain Jeremy O’Keefe, who will be playing in his second NAHL postseason starting Friday. “I think if we had the choice we’d probably want to drop the puck right now, we’re so excited and so ready to get [the playoffs] started.”
In ten regular season meetings, the Bobcats split with the Blizzard, with each team claiming five wins; two of the Bobcats’ losses were in overtime while all their wins were in regulation, giving the Cats the slim 12-10 edge in the season series.
It was a tight season series, as well, with seven of the ten games being decided by one goal; the other three contests were all wins by the Bobcats, while two of the Blizzard’s wins came in the shootout—which is not a part of the playoffs in the NAHL.
“Nobody in our locker room is sad to say goodbye to the shootout, that’s for sure,” joked Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose squad went just 3-7 in shootouts in 2012-13. “especially when every game now will be decided 5-on-5 if you go to overtime. OT or not, though, we expect some tight games against a team with as strong a defense as you see in Brookings.”
The Bobcats ride into the playoffs on their best run of the year, having closed the month of March on a 7-0-3 tear that included four straight wins to wrap the regular season.
One big reason for the Cats’ late-season push is the emergence of the power play, which merited a 29.3% rating on 17 man-advantage goals over the course of March, nearly doubling their season average of 16.3%.
“Things weren’t going so well on the ‘PP’ for a while but toward the end of the season we started to get some personnel straightened out,” assessed Sedevie of his power play unit, which jumped from 20th league-wide at the start of March to 11th at the end of the regular season. “The biggest thing has been getting big bodies like Matt Anders, Evan Giesler and Seth Blair to the front of the net while guys like Nate Repensky and Patrick Moore quarterback things at the point.”
Appropriately, the Cats’ final game-winner of the regular season was a Giesler put-back of a Repensky rebound on the power play at Minot on March 30.
The curtain rises on the 2013 Robertson Cup Playoffs for the Bobcats and Blizzard with Friday’s Game One at 7:15 PM at the VFW Sports Center.
Tickets for both Friday and Saturday’s games are on sale right now by calling the box office at 222-3300 or buying and printing tickets online at www.BismarckBobcats.com.
Friday’s postseason lid-lifter 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 6:45 PM.