Bobcats Hurtle into Home Stretch against Minotauros, Blizzard
Matchup: Bismarck Bobcats (30-15-1, 1st Central) vs Minot Minotauros (27-17-5, 2nd Central); Brookings Blizzard (19-23-6, T-4th Central)
Games: Friday, March 4, 7:15pm; Saturday, March 5, 7:30pm
Venue: VFW Sports Center, Bismarck, N.D.; Larson Ice Center, Brookings, S.D.
Season Series: Series tied 5-5-0; Bobcats lead Blizzard 6-1-1
All-Time: Bobcats lead Minotauros 36-17-4; Bobcats lead Blizzard 26-13-3
Radio: SuperTalk 1270 AM, SuperTalk1270.com and the radioPup smartphone app, 6:45pm Friday; 7:00pm Saturday
Internet TV: http://NAHL.FASTHockey.com, 6:45pm Friday; 7:00pm Saturday
BISMARCK, ND – With their lead atop the Central Division at a tenuous two points, the Bismarck Bobcats open a pivotal stretch of the 2015-16 regular season when they host the second-place Minot Minotauros Friday at the VFW Sports Center before heading south Saturday to the Larson Ice Center to face the Brookings Blizzard.
Friday’s clash with the Minotauros, which will also be the Cats’ seventh annual Brave the Shave Night to battle pediatric cancer—looms the largest: should the game end in regulation, the winner will be in first place and control at least a share of the head-to-head tiebreaker in the tight race for the regular season division title.
Minot rides a major hot streak into the VFW Sports Center with just one regulation loss in their last ten games thanks to a combined 16 points in that span from forwards Christian Mohs (3g, 5a) and Max Reisinger (4g, 4a).
The Minotauros’ defense has also been staunch in the last 10 games, allowing just 18 goals behind strong performances in net from Gunner Rivers (4-1-2, 1.82 GAA) and Lucas Murray (3-0-0, 1.33 GAA). Rivers presided over Minot’s 3-1 come-from-behind road win on February 12 with 27 saves.
Brookings, meanwhile, has persevered through a tough 3-4-0 stretch, upsetting Minot at home Saturday 3-2 on a last-minute Nick Ford goal to regain a share of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
Ford has been the Blizzard’s most reliable contributor against the Bobcats, scoring twice while adding four assists in eight meetings for a team-high six points in the season series.
Finnish center Mikael Hakkarainen (9g, 24a) returned to the Brookings lineup two weeks ago after missing the previous five games to play for Team Finland overseas at the Five Nations Tournament.
For the Bobcats, center Alex Strand has the hot hand with four goals and three assists in his last five games to pull into second on the Bobcats in scoring with 40 points (22g, 18a). Second-year forwards Aaron Herdt (2g, 3a) and Harrison Aide (5a) are also averaging a point per game in the last five contests.
In net, Hunter Shepard has paced the Bobcats all season with a 29-9-0 record to go with a 1.98 GAA and a .924 SV%. Newcomer Nick Althaus joined the Cats a week ago, but has yet to appear in black and gold since arriving from St. Cloud (Minn.) Apollo High School.
Tickets are now on sale for Friday’s home date: fans can buy and print tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com, by clicking “Shop Now” on the team Facebook page or charge-by-phone at 222-3300.
Friday’s go-round in the Battle of Highway 83 will be broadcast live locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com—the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League—with pregame coverage starting at 6:45pm.
Season tickets are still on sale for the 2015-16 season at a pro-rated price; if you want to beat the rush of over 40,000 fans for this year, now is the time! Call 222-3300 to reserve your seats today.