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WEEKEND PREVIEW: Bruins and Bobcats renew acquaintances

Photo courtesty: Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK, ND – The Bruins make their return to Bismarck for the first time since opening weekend in September when they were swept by the Bobcats. Friday begins a stretch of four in a row against their division rivals with two at V.F.W. Sports Center this weekend and then a pair at Riverside next Friday and Saturday night. Both teams went in opposite directions immedietly following the first series of the season, with the Bruins winning 5 of their next 6 and the Bobcats losing the next five, but each have settled in to a similar pattern of late, and are separated only by seven points. Here is your weekend preview.

 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR –

Gabor's Return: Bruins forward Gilbert Gabor returns to the lineup after serving a three game suspension for his elbow on Minot's Johnny Walker Halloween night. The Bruins will gladly welcome their leading point scorer (6 goals, 10 assists) back to not only help out the offense, but re-stabilize the forward lines that were juggled frequently by Kyle Grabowski and Keenan Kelly during last week's three game set.

Brown, Herdt, Wood, and Aide: It was four veteran forwards that did almost all of the damage against the Bruins in the Bobcat sweep of Austin back on September 18th-19th. Aaron Herdt, Travis Wood, and Harrison Aide each scored two goals, while Willie Brown had a goal and six assists on the weekend as the Bobcats skated away with 6-3 and 3-0 wins.

Goaltending battle: Both starting goaltenders are in the top 8 in wins among NAHL netminders. Bismarck's Hunter Sheppard (7-6-0) also has a top 6 goals-against-average (1.93). Kris Carlson wasn't yet on the Bruins roster for Austin's first trip to Bismarck. He is 7-3-1 in his last 11 starts and has 8 total wins on the season.

Killer PK: The Bruins penalty kill is up to 7th in the league after holding Coulee Region to 0-5 on Saturday in La Crosse. Overall, they've killed of 27 of their last 29 shorthanded situations. Although they scored three powerplay goals in their opening weekend sweep, the Bobcats rank 2nd from the bottom in PP percentage at only 9.4% (15 for 54).

THE MATCHUP –

Central Division Standings:

TEAM

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

Minot

17

11

4

2

22

Austin

19

10

8

1

21

Brookings

16

8

7

1

17

Bismarck

15

7

8

0

14

MN Magicians

18

6

10

2

14

Aberdeen

15

5

8

0

10

2015-16 Head to head:

09/18/15 Austin 3 at Bismarck 6
09/19/15 Austin 0 at Bismarck 3
11/13/15 @ Bismarck – 7:15 PM
11/14/15 @ Bismarck – 7:15 PM
11/20/15 @ Austin – 7:05 PM
11/21/15 @ Austin – 7:05 PM
03/11/16 @ Austin – 7:05 PM
03/12/16 @ Austin – 7:05 PM

 

HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAMES –

The puck drops on Friday and Saturday night from VFW Sports Centre at 7:15 Central Time. Fans can watch the game on FASTHockey.com, with the “AWAY” feed carrying the Bruins broadcast network. Fans are also encouraged to catch the games at B&J Bar and Grill (located on 114 4th Ave NE), the official home of Bruins away games. Intermission updates will be posted via @theaustinbruins on Twitter.