AUSTIN, Minn. – The Austin Bruins are back on Riverside Arena ice for a pair of games this weekend against the Bismarck Bobcats. After a less-than-stellar start to November, the Bruins are amped and ready for the challenge that the Bobcats bring. With over a quarter of the season already gone by and the Bruins within striking distance of first place in the Central Division, there is no shortage of importance on these next two games.
The Bobcats will come through Austin for the second time this season, with the first occasion coming during the Bruins home-opening weekend back in late September. Bismarck took game number one on the season series, 2-1 but the Bruins roared back the following night with a 2-1 victory of their own, sending Bismarck home having to settle for a split. Since then, the two teams have had different starts to the season. While the Bobcats have played well, they haven’t strung together a substantial win streak which has kept them bobbing up and down near the middle of the Central Division standings. Austin, on the other hand, had a long string of success including points in nine straight games allowing them to own first place of the Central Division for most of the season thus far. Unfortunately for the home team Bruins, things are a little different this month. While the Bruins have been struggling, including back-to-back losses this past weekend – the first time all season that the team has suffered two straight regulation losses- the Bobcats are heating up. Bismarck has won two of their last three games, including a weekend sweep division rival Aberdeen, and has earned points in five of their last eight.
One of the bigger storylines coming into this game is special teams, with the Bruins league-leading penalty kill unit going head-to-head against the Bobcats number one ranked power play. An easy way for the black-and-gold to come out on top of that particular aspect of this weekends’ games, is to stay out of the box – something that Coach Steve Howard and Assistant Coach Keenan Kelly have been preaching all season long. The Bruins are second in the division in fewest penalties committed and have the sixth-lowest penalty total in all of the NAHL.
Despite a little skid to start November, the Bruins still boast the strongest goaltending tandem in the league with Kyle McClellan, and recent RPI commit Brett Miller, ranking first and third in goals-against average in the NAHL, respectively. Each goaltender has a sub-2.00 goals-against average coupled with a save percentage better than 90-percent, making them a problem for any team coming into a loud Riverside Arena.
It’s a huge weekend for the Bruins who aim to rebound from a slow start to November and regain their place atop the Central Division against a team that’s been heating up. Friday night is First Responders Night with all local fire, police, EMS, and dispatch workers getting free admission to the game and a video board tribute to go along with other festivities. Fans can get discounted tickets at all the Bruins vendors including Games People Play, Hy-Vee, Holiday Inn and Austin Conference Center, and Jim’s Marketplace. Tickets will be available at the box-office for full-price when doors open at 6:00 P.M. each night.
It’s a huge weekend for the Bruins who aim to rebound from a slow start to November and regain their place atop the Central Division against the recently-hot Bismarck Bobcats. Puck drop scheduled for 7:05 on Friday and Saturday night at Riverside Arena in Austin.