Road Trip Wraps with Top-Two Clash
AUSTIN, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats will conclude their three-game road swing Friday and Saturday with a pair of games against the Central Division-leading Austin Bruins at Riverside Arena.
With 14 games remaining in the 2012-13 season, the Bobcats (27-14-5, 59 pts) trail the frontrunning Bruins (34-8-6, 74 pts) by 15 points for the top spot in the Central chase.
“We still have a chance to get in the race for first,” assessed Bobcat defender Jeremy O’Keefe, fresh off an all-star stint for Team Dakota at the 2013 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, “but obviously we can’t give up too many more points. We want to come into a fun place to play like [Riverside] and play hard and show that we’re a threat come playoffs.”
Leading fifth-place Coulee Region (14-28-5, 33 pts) by a sturdy 26 points, the Bobcats can sew up their fifth consecutive playoff appearance with one more point.
Failing to pick up a standings point in just one of their last 10 games, the Bobcats have put together a surge toward the Bruins thanks to strong defense, allowing a division-best 2.28 goals per game.
Offensively, the Cats have recently got a bump from a pair of rookies: first-year forward Matt Anders has racked up goals in four straight games, an active league high, while fellow newcomer Cory Chapman has registered seven goals and eight assists in his last 19 games, dating back to December 14.
“Matty and Cory have been working hard, playing physically and getting into the right area to score,” noted Bobcats assistant coach Garrett Roth, “and that’s what you need to do to succeed in the North American Hockey League. Now it’s our hope, as a coaching staff, that it becomes infectious and we get 18 guys playing that way every night.”
Austin has raced to the top of the Central table thanks to a league-best, juggernaut power play that has racked up an incredible 25% efficiency rating through 48 games—more than 5% better than the second-rated Texas Tornado. In their final visit to the VFW Sports Center for this season, the Bruins poured in four power play goals on 11 chances, including a 3-for-5 night in their 6-5 shootout win on February 8.
Brandon Wahlin and A.J. Reid, the top and third-leading scorers league-wide, respectively, pace the Bruins’ blistering offense that has tallied 179 goals this season, which is the third-most of any team in the NAHL.
The curtain rises on this top-two throwdown Friday at 7:05 PM at Riverside Arena.
Friday’s contest 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 6:40 PM.
Pro-rated season tickets for the 2012-13 season are now on sale—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office today at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats for another great season of Championship Entertainment.