Southern Hostility

ABERDEEN, SD – The Bismarck Bobcats continue a month of February littered with rivalry games Saturday as they head south to take on the Aberdeen Wings, their counterparts in the Titan Machinery Dakota Cup, for a 7:15 PM throwdown at the Odde Ice Center.

“We’re lucky to be in a position where we have a few opponents that have developed into rivals,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “Alexandria has come through quite a few playoff matchups and Minot is a natural rival with how close we are, but I’m not sure a rivalry in the NAHL has gotten as hot as fast as ours with Aberdeen, which makes for some really fun hockey.”

Through eight games in the Dakota Cup, the Bobcats are 8-0-0 and hold a 16-2 points advantage over the Wings, eclipsing their points total from 2010-11’s inaugural series, which the Bobcats won 15-11.

Instrumental in the Bobcats’ inter-Dakota success thus far has been the goaltending in the series, particularly the emergence of Aaron Nelson. The former Century High standout has presided over three of the Bobcats’ last five wins against the Wings, including a 32-save performance in the Cats’ last visit to the Odde Ice Center on December 30.

“Aaron and Tommy are different styles of goaltenders and present different challenges to our opponents,” explained Sedevie, a former collegiate and professional goalie himself. “It’s an incredible luxury for a coach to have; last season Ryan Faragher got burnt out starting so many games. This year our guys will keep each other fresh, which will be a big advantage when the playoffs roll around.”

On the other side, the Bobcats will once again have their hands full with Aberdeen forwards Cory Ward and Steve Obarzanek. Ward is tied for tops among all Central Division scorers—with Bobcats assistant captain Castan Sommer—with 46 points while Obarzanek is fourth in the league in goals with 26, 11 of which have come at the Bobcats’ expense.

Aberdeen enters the weekend picking up momentum in the division standings, having overtaken Austin for second place and posting a 5-1-2 record in their last eight games including a 3-1-0 mark since goaltender Marcus Zelzer took over in net following the trade of long-time netminder Hunter Leisner to the Texas Tornado.

The Bobcats, battling injuries on the front end to difference-makers like Frank DeAugustine and Mike Dockry, pulled the trigger Friday on a trade for Buster Hebda, the third-leading scorer for the Minot Minotauros. Minot will receive future considerations.

In 43 games, Hebda has collected nine goals and eight assists. The Frederick, Colo., native and long-time friend of Bobcat veteran forward Dan Zawacki is also a 2012 Top Prospects Tournament selection, running the Bobcats’ total to seven players on the Team Central roster later this month in Troy, Mich.

Saturday’s Dakota Cup matchup 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 at 6:45 PM. Fans can watch the game—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.

Season tickets are still available for the second half of the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!