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WEEKEND PREVIEW: Bruins look to finish first half in first place

Photo courtesy of Don Boesen, Boesen Photography

After a much needed physical and mental break, the Bruins get back to work this weekend with a Friday home game against the Minnesota Wilderness and a Saturday road trip to La Crosse to take on Coulee Region. While they were off, the Minot Minotauros – the team directly behind them in the Central Division Standings, lost twice to the Minnesota Magicians, keeping the B’s two point first place edge in-tact. The rest of the results in the Central tightened things up however, with now just six points separating first and fifth place in the division. The upcoming Christmas break marks the exact halfway point for the Bruins, who hope to hold their lead before heading home for the holidays.

 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR –

Flying Teddy Bears: Friday night is the annual Teddy Bear Toss at Riverside Arena. Fans are encouraged to bring unwanted stuffed animals to throw onto the ice after the Bruins’ first goal to benefit the Salvation Army of Austin. Bears will also be available for purchase at the game.

Easy as Pie-hler: Michael Piehler had a coming-out weekend in the sweep of Aberdeen on December 4th and 5th. He scored his first two NAHL goals, both powerplay markers in Friday’s 3-0 win and then followed up with his third goal of the weekend in a 5-1 Saturday victory. Overall, Piehler has four points in his last three games, and was named as an honorable mention in last week’s NAHL Central Division Stars.

More Goor: Robbie Goor continues to win, no matter where he goes. After a 6-0-0 start in Granite City, the Bruins goalie is 2 for 2 in his NAHL career, winning at Coulee Region on November 25th and then again against Aberdeen on December 5th. He still has not allowed more than two goals a game in any start this season and has given up only one in each of his games with the Bruins. While Kris Carlson is still the clear starter, Goor’s performance as backup has been a rousing success in a short period of time.

Central Dominance: While the Wilderness are a respectable 6-4-2 inside their tough Midwest Division, the defending Robertson Cup champs are 10-2-1 against Central Division opponents. This includes a sweep of the Bruins back on October 9th and 10th – a 4-1 win at Riverside followed by a 4-3 home victory the next night. They enter play Friday six points behind the Fairbanks Ice Dogs for the top spot in the Midwest.

Special Teams Test: The power play and penalty kill units of both the Wilderness and the Bruins are top 10 in the NAHL. The Wilderness possess the league’s best power play, clipping at an impressive 27.4% rate – nearly 5% higher than the 2nd ranked unit (Wichita Falls). The Bruins penalty kill continues to rise through the ranks and is now 5th in the NAHL (86.3%) following an 11 for 11 weekend in the sweep of Aberdeen. All special teams units will be put to the test on Friday.

Chillin’ with Coulee: Saturday night will mark the first of two consecutive battles with the Chill, despite a 12 day gap between games. The Bruins and Chill will have played 5 of 8 their head to head matchups in a span of two months after their game on New Year’s Eve. Austin has taken two of the first three games – both at Green Island Ice Arena in La Crosse, where Saturday night's game will be played.

 

THE MATCHUPS –

Central Division Standings:

TEAM

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

Austin

28

16

11

1

33

Minot

28

14

11

3

31

Brookings

27

13

11

3

29

Bismarck

25

14

11

0

28

MN Magicians

27

12

12

3

27

Aberdeen

25

8

13

4

20

 

Midwest Division Standings:

TEAM

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

Fairbanks

28

21

4

3

45

MN Wilderness

28

18

7

3

39

Janesville

26

16

8

2

34

Springfield

27

15

8

4

34

Coulee Region

25

9

16

0

18

Kenai River

28

1

26

1

3

 

2015-16 Austin vs. MN Wilderness head to head (Wilderness lead 2-0-0)
click date for game story

10/09/15 MN Wilderness 4 at Austin 1  
10/10/15 Austin 3 at MN Wilderness 4
12/18/15 @ Austin – 7:05 PM
01/07/16 @ MN Wilderness – 7:30 PM    

 

2015-16 Austin vs. Coulee Region head to head (Bruins lead 2-1-0)
click date for game story

11/06/15 Coulee Region 6 at Austin 2
11/07/15 Austin 3 at Coulee Region 1
11/25/15 Austin 4 at Coulee Region 1
12/19/15 @ Coulee Region – 7:00 PM
12/31/15 @ Austin – 7:05 PM
01/22/16 @ Austin – 7:05 PM
02/06/16 @ Austin – 7:05 PM
02/13/16 @ Coulee Region – 7:00 PM

 

HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAMES –

The puck drops from Riverside Arena on Friday at 7:05 PM CT. Tickets can be pre-purchased at HyVee, 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+). Saturday’s game is a 7:00 puck drop from Green Island Ice Arena in La Crosse, WI. Fans can watch both games via live streaming video on FASTHockey.com and intermission updates will be posted to Facebook as well as @theaustinbruins on Twitter. Saturday’s game will also be available via radio on AM 1480 KAUS and streaming online at myaustinminnesota.com.