No Love Lost

BISMARCK, ND –There will be no room for the Bismarck Bobcats to ease into the Central Division schedule for 2011-12 as they open divisional play against their two arch rivals: welcoming the Aberdeen Wings for Coors Light Opening Night Friday before hosting the Alexandria Blizzard on Saturday.

“We’ve got a pair of rivalries—one new and one in Aberdeen and one that’s been going since before I got here in Alexandria—and both have a ton of juice after last year,” noted Bobcats captain Bryce Schmitt. “There’s a lot of dislike between both teams and our team, so there’s going to be more intensity than people may expect from the second week of the regular season.”

First place will be up for grabs as the three-time Central champion Bobcats (2-1-0, 4 pts) look to displace the front-running Wings (3-1-0, 6 pts) on Coors Light Opening Night.

Despite the season-long rush for points after the 2010-11 Central Division saw first and fourth place separated by 5 points, neither side is getting too wrapped up in the week two standings.

“No question, we’ll take the points,” admitted Wings head coach Pete Sauer, “but we also recognize that being in first place after the NAHL Showcase is like leading the first five laps of a NASCAR race: there’s still a long, long way to go and plenty can happen between now and March.”

The home opener will also serve as the first round of the Dakota Cup, as series that the Bobcats won by just four points in its inaugural installment in 2010-11, 15-11.

Second-year star Cory Ward (G, 5 A) leads the Aberdeen charge while veteran netminder Hunter Leisner, who led all NAHL goalies in saves last season, remains the Wings’ anchor in net.

Saturday’s matchup will be a playoff rematch from the last three postseasons as the Blizzard make their first visit to the VFW Sports Center of the young season. The Blizzard spoiled the Cats’ 2010 home opener with a 3-1 victory before dominating their season series with the Cats with a 10-2-0 record in the overall season series before bowing out to the Bobcats in five games in a wild Central Division Semifinal.

Alexandria native Thomas Williams returns for the 2011-12 campaign and leads all Blizzard scorers with four goals and an assist through four games. Williams, however, is just one of six returners from a 2010-11 Blizzard final roster that lost noted standouts Nardo Nagtzaam, Steve Zierke, Alex Altenbernd, Jake Williams and others.

“The Blizzard have a young team, so they’re bound to go through some early growing pains,” observed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, “but with a nice core of veterans and a coach like Doc DelCastillo behind the bench, you can bet Alexandria will be as dangerous as ever this year.”

Coors Light Opening Night gets started with a 7:15 PM Friday puck drop against the Wings, with a matching 7:15 PM Saturday start against the Blizzard.

Both home dates 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 Pregame coverage gets under way each night at 6:45.

Season tickets are now on sale for the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email for more information on reserving your seats for the upcoming season!