AUSTIN, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats’ final road weekend featured a couple of firsts for the regular-season division champs—but neither of them good—as the Cats were dealt their first weekend sweep and first three-game losing streak of 2011-12 thanks to a 5-2 loss Saturday to the Austin Bruins at Riverside Arena.
Trying to bounce back from a disappointing 5-3 loss on Friday, the Bobcats found themselves behind early to the Bruins, who jumped ahead 1-0 on a Matt Hansen goal in transition 4:32 into the game.
The Bobcats were able to answer, however, when Nick Miglio grabbed a Ryan Callahan rebound and out-waited Bruins goalie Tyler Bruggeman, chipping a backhander over the Austin netminder’s leg pad and in to tie the game at one after the first period.
Bryce Schmitt briefly put the Bobcats ahead 3:42 into the second, banging in his own rebound after Miglio found him open in the low slot with a feed across the goal line.
Austin got it back to even 1:51 later on the rush as A.J. Reid took a backhanded pass in space from Charlie Adams and fired a shot through the legs of Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson to level the score at two.
Adams put Austin in front to stay at 3-2 late in the middle frame off a Bobcat defensive zone turnover as the Bruins’ top scorer redirected a rolling point shot by Trevor Waldoch over Nelson’s blocker with 2:47 to go in the second.
The Bobcats attempted to rally, putting 17 shots on Bruggeman after Adams’ go-ahead tally, but could not solve the Bruins’ all-star netminder, who piled up 48 saves en route to his 26th win of the season.
Waldoch extended the lead to 4-2 with 55 seconds to go on a late power play and C.J. Smith gave the game its final margin with an empty-netter with 11 seconds left in the contest.
Nelson made 24 saves but dropped only his fourth regulation decision of the year.
With the Bobcats’ loss, Amarillo—1-0 winners at home Saturday—clinch their first ever President’s Cup, awarded to the team that finishes the regular season with the best record in the NAHL. The Bobcats are, however, locked into the second-best record in the league despite coming up short at Riverside.
The Cats finish their season series with the Bruins 7-4-1; Austin defeated the Bobcats more than any other team in the Central Division.
Thanks to Minot’s overtime win at Alexandria on Saturday, the Bruins are within three points of the Blizzard for second place in the Central Division with three games left to play.
The Bobcats will look to build some momentum for the Robertson Cup Playoffs when they play their final games of the season at home, Friday at 7:15 PM against the Minot Minotauros and Saturday at 7:15 PM against the Aberdeen Wings.
Both contests 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.
Playoff tickets for the Bobcats’ first-round matchup with Aberdeen are now on sale for Game One April 6 and Game Two April 7! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats or buy and print your playoff tickets online now at BismarckBobcats.com!