by John Peterson
For just the fourth time this season, the Austin Bruins (36-19-1) lost on their home ice, falling 1-0 Saturday to the Bismarck Bobcats (31-22-5) in the Bruins’ regular season home finale at Riverside Arena.
No friends were made for the second night in a row in the first period. Tempers from Friday night’s game evidently carried over into Saturday, as there were 10 penalties in the opening stanza. The Bruins power-play went 0-for-2 in the period, and Bismarck went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage. Nick Lehr (Roseville, MN) saw a lot of traffic in front of the Bruins net, and stopped all seven Bobcats shots.
Bismarck started the second period on its fourth power-play of the night, but could not convert in what turned out to be a much different second period. Tempers cooled a bit, as both teams focused on getting that first goal. The Bruins outshot the Bobcats 13-8 in the frame, as both Lehr and Bobcat’s goalie Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) were superb and the game remained scoreless.
Lehr and Nelson continued to shine in the third, but late in the game, the Bobcats snuck in the only goal at 15:49 of the period. Out of an Austin timeout following a Bruins icing, Bismarck won the ensuing face-off and Nate Repensky (Duluth, MN) snapped a shot from the point through traffic off the post and in behind a screened Lehr. The Bruins generated several grade-A scoring chances in the final minute, with the extra-attacker on, but Nelson stood tall to preserve the 26-save shutout. Lehr made 21 saves in the loss. With Aberdeen winning its ninth game in a row Saturday in a shootout victory against the Minnesota Magicians, the Bruins lead in the Central Division is one point going into the final weekend.
Next weekend, the Bruins will finish the regular season on the road in Bismarck. Friday and Saturday night’s games will start at 7:15pm. You can listen to both games on 1480AM KAUS in Austin or online at fasthockey.com, with the pregame show starting at 7:05.