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WEEKEND PREVIEW: Bruins finish season series with Brookings

The Bruins earned a well-deserved and much needed four points in a weekend home sweep of the first place Bismarck Bobcats with a pair of overtime thrillers at Riverside Arena. Jacob Paganelli scored the only goal of Friday’s game at the 3:08 mark of OT before Kris Carlson and Evan Cholak played hero in a 2-1 shootout win on Saturday. The Bruins held tight to their third place standing in the Central, lowering their “magic number” to eight points. With only one game this weekend, the Bruins can’t clinch a playoff spot until next week, but they can once again make their road to the postseason a little smoother.

 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR –

Last Blizzard of the Year: Friday marks the eighth and final meeting of the 2015-16 regular season with the Brookings Blizzard. Austin has had great success against the team that their head coach last worked for, registering 6 wins in the first 7 tries. The Bruins are 3-0-0 at Riverside in the head-to-head, blowing out the Blizzard each time, by final scores of 6-3, 7-0, and 6-1. The most recent meeting was March 4th in Brookings – a 4-3 Bruins win.

Basement Brookings: The Blizzard are in full-on “must win” mode as they sit in last place, six points out of the final Central Division playoff spot. They’ve lost 8 of their last 9 games and will needs wins plus help to get in. It won’t be easy, as after their trip to Austin on Friday, they’ve got three straight with Bismarck, plus a home series against Minot at the end of the season.

Carlson Stars: Kris Carlson might have played his best two games of the season last weekend, stopping 59 of a total 60 Bismarck shots. He registered his fourth shutout of the campaign on Friday, before bailing out the Bruins multiple times in Saturday’s overtime and then turning away two of three Bobcat shooters in the shootout. Carlson was named the Central Division 2nd Star of the Week.

OT Trend: Not only did both of last weekend’s Bruins game require OT, but 5 of the last 7 Central Division games have gone past regulation. The Magicians and Aberdeen Wings split their series with a pair of OT finals, before the Wings played their unheard-of 19th OT on Tuesday night, a loss at Bismarck. Brookings has played 13 overtimes in their own right, but just one against the Bruins. Austin has played 8, with a record of 4-4 (1-0 shootout).

Blizzard Backstops: The Achilles’ heel for the Blizzard all season long as been in between the pipes. Josh Kuehmichel and Jacob Gwillim each have goals-against-averages above 3, with Gwillim’s close to 4. Gwillim debuted on January 8th and started six consecutive games, before Kuehmichel played the next four. The Blizzard gave Gwillim the next six, before alternating them over the last five. Neither goaltender has fared well against the Bruins this season, with Kuehmichel posting a 1-2-0 record with a 4.09 GAA and a .888 SV% and Gwillim coming in a 0-2-1 with a 4.37 and a .846.

 

THE MATCHUP –

Central Division Standings:

TEAM

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

Bismarck

51

32

16

3

67

Minot

53

31

17

5

67

Austin

52

26

22

4

56

Aberdeen

53

20

22

11

51

MN Magicians

52

20

25

7

47

Brookings

52

19

27

6

44

Top four teams make playoffs

 

2015-16 Austin vs. Brookings head to head (Bruins lead 6-1-0)
click date for game story

10/02/15 Austin 4 at Brookings 1
10/03/15 Brookings 3 at Austin 6
01/15/16 Brookings 0 at Austin 7
01/16/16 Austin 3/OT at Brookings 2
01/23/16 Austin 1 at Brookings 6
02/05/16 Brookings 1 at Austin 6
03/04/16 Austin 4 at Brookings 3
03/18/16 @ Austin – 7:05 PM

 

HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME –

The puck drops from Riverside Arena on Friday night at 7:05 PM CT. Tickets can be pre-purchased at Hy Vee, Jim’s Marketplace, Games People Play, and the Holiday Inn for $4 off the door price – $11 for adults and $8 for students and seniors (65+). It’s also "Pacelli Night" at Riverside, with a “green” theme. Fans can purchase a green t-shirt plus a ticket to the game for just $20 at Pacelli High School between the hours of 8 AM – 4 PM through Friday. Bruiser’s green Pacelli themed jersey will be live auctioned immediately following the game with proceeds benefitting Pacelli Catholic Schools.

The game will be broadcast with live streaming video and audio on FASTHockey.com, and audio only on AM 1480 KAUS in Austin as well as streaming online at myaustinminnesota.com. The broadcast begins at 6:55. Intermission updates can be found on Facebook and Twitter.