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NAHL Showcase Preview: Bruins Open 7th Season

All roads lead to Blaine, Minnesota for the annual NAHL Showcase beginning this Wednesday at the Schwan Super Rink and the Bruins are one of just six teams in the league that will be making its season debut. The Showcase has been a friendly place for the Bruins over the last three seasons, as they’ve posted an 11-1-0 record in Blaine since the 2013-14 campaign. The Bruins find themselves with a tough schedule, however, facing off with four playoff teams from a season ago – including the defending Robertson Cup Champion.

GAME 1 OPPONENT: Topeka RoadRunners, South Division
DATE: Wednesday, September 21st | TIME: 7:15 PM

Topeka drew the short straw with the NAHL schedule makers and had to play their first three games against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Although they were the home team, the RoadRunners lost all three in regulation by scores of 3-1, 7-1, and 4-1. Josh Kamrass enters his second season behind the Topeka bench, after posting a 34-24-2 record and nabbing the #3 seed in the South. They knocked off the Lone Star Brahmas in round one of the playoffs, but were ousted by the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the South finals.

GAME 2 OPPONENT:  Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Midwest Division
DATE: Thursday, September 22nd | TIME: 1:15 PM

Robertson Cup champions two of the last three seasons, Fairbanks has already set the pace for the 2016-17 season with their 3-0-0 start. Trevor Stewart’s club had a record-breaking 2015-16 campaign, breaking Janesville’s point record for a season ago with 101, and tying an all-time NAHL mark with 49 wins. Despite losing 95-point man Todd Burgess, the Dogs keep putting up Ws like the well-oiled machine that they are. The Bruins will look to avenge their 2015 Robertson Cup Finals loss in Alaska.

GAME 3 OPPONENT: Johnstown Tomahawks, East Division
DATE: Friday, September 23rd | Time: 10:00 AM

The ‘Hawks had a nice year in the four-team East of 2015-16, finishing 3rd, but upsetting #2 New Jersey before being taken out by Aston. Third year head coach Mike Letizia has his squad off to a 2-0-0 start, notching a pair of wins against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on September 9th-10th. The East now contains five teams with the addition of the Northeast Generals, so a playoff spot is not guaranteed this time around. The Bruins last saw Johnstown at the 2014-15 Showcase and rolled to an 8-2 victory.

GAME 4 OPPONENT: Lone Star Brahmas, South Division
Date: Saturday, September 24th | Time: 3:15 PM

Bruins fans remember Lone Star from the 2014-15 run to the Robertson Cup Finals. Austin swept its way through that series and now see the Brahmas for the first time since, after nearly an identical 15-16 season for the Lone Star squad. Despite posting the 3rd highest point total (87) of any NAHL team last season, Lone Star was upset by Topeka in a four game round one series. Head coach Dan Wildfong is in his 4th year and is seeking an appearance in the Robertson Cup Finals to go along with what he hopes is his 3rd straight year of 86+ points. Lone Star smoked Amarillo, 7-1 in their only action of the season so far.

Fans can watch all four games on FASTHockey.com, with the Bruins broadcast on the “AWAY” feed Wednesday and Saturday and the “HOME” feed Tuesday and Thursday. In addition, AM 1480 KAUS will carry Thursday afternoon’s game against Fairbanks, beginning at 1:05 PM with a pregame show. Fans can also listen to that game online at myaustinminnesota.com. Intermission updates from all games will be posted via @theaustinbruins on Twitter and game recaps and highlights will be posted on AustinBruins.com.