BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats are set to wrap up their current seven-game homestand on Friday and Saturday in a matchup of the top two teams in the Central Division as the Owatonna Express invade the VFW Sports Center for a pair of 7:15 PM contests this weekend.
Presently the Bobcats (21-8-6, 48 pts) sit 11 points ahead of the second-place Express (17-11-3, 37 pts), with North Iowa a distant third (13-15-4, 30 pts).
“Looking at the standings right now, our division is shaping up to be a two-horse race [for first place] between ourselves and Owatonna,” said Bobcats head coach Byron Pool. “Right now Owatonna has four games in hand on us so these head-to-head matchups are incredibly important. We need to get as much separation from these guys as we can.”
It will be the Express’ first trip to Bismarck this season after the Bobcats split the first five games between the two teams with a mark of 2-1-2 at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna.
The Express will have a bit of a different look against the Bobcats this weekend from the previous five matchups, as beginning-of-the-year starting goaltender Mike Shibrowski (3-1-0 vs. the Bobcats) accepted a mid-season scholarship to Colorado College and has been replaced by former USHL goaltender Matt Hemingway (Cedar Rapids).
“With Shibrowski gone after Christmas, lots of folks around our division were wondering what Owatonna was going to do in net,” said Pool, “and [Express head coach] Pat Cullen hit it right out of the park. Matt Hemingway is a goalie with game-changing talent and his presence on their roster single-handedly took their goaltending situation from a question mark to a big strength.”
Hemingway is 2-0-0 in his first two starts with a 1.48 GAA and a .947 SV%.
In front of the new Express goaltender will be Owatonna’s dangerous-as-usual offensive attack, led by Cory Thorson’s 34 points (16 goals) and Brian McGinty’s 20 assists.
For the Bobcats, Air Force recruit Jason Fabian sets the pace offensively with 15 goals and 22 assists and fellow future Falcon Ryan Jacobson leads the team in goals with 19 (T-2nd league-wide). Between the pipes, the Bobcats have found a consistent anchor in net with goalie Ryan Faragher, who remains near the top of the league standings with a 15-4-5 record, a 2.18 GAA and a .918 SV%.
The puck drops both nights at 7:15 PM, with the gates opening at 6:15 PM. The Bobcats are pleased to offer “Bobcat Buck Beers” from 6:45 until the opening faceoff both nights, as well.
Fans are encouraged to bring their skates to Saturday’s contest, as they can Skate with the Bobcats following the game.
Both games will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts each night at 6:45 PM.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your Season Tickets, Family Packs and Group Nights today by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.