Just four months and two days after their Robertson Cup hopes were dashed in the championship round for the second consecutive season, the Austin Bruins begin their quest to get back to the promise land on Friday night in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Bruins will play their first seven games of the season away from Riverside Arena as they travel to Blaine, MN for four at the annual NAHL showcase after this weekend, followed by a trip to Brookings on Friday, October 2nd before coming home to Riverside to open the home schedule on Saturday, October 3rd.
Photo courtesy of the Post Bulletin
OFF SEASON STORYLINES –
New Bench Bosses: First year head coach Kyle Grabowski and assistant Keenan Kelly will make their Bruins debuts behind the bench. Grabowski spent last season as an assistant coach with the Brookings Blizzard after four years with the Idaho Jr. Steelheads (WSHL) – a stint that included the head coach/GM position. Kelly worked with Grabowski in Idaho and most recently spent four years at Northern Michigan (NCAA, DI) as a Student-Assistant Coach and Assistant Director of Hockey Operations.
Division Addition: With the NAHL dropping from 24 to 22 teams for its 40th season, the Minnesota Magicians join the Central Division, creating a 6 team setup. The Magicians jump from the Midwest Division which added Janesville and Springfield from the now defunct “North Division.” The Bruins and Magicians will play eight times this season. Austin came out on top 6-3 in a pre-season matchup in Edina last weekend.
3 on 3 OT: To stay in line with NHL rule change, the NAHL has adopted 3 on 3 overtime for the 15-16 campaign. The OT duration will stay at 5 minutes with the potential shootout format altered from best of 5 to best of 3, also in line with the NHL. The goal of 3 on 3 overtime at all levels is to increase the amount of games that end in OT and decrease those decided by a shootout.
THE MATCHUP –
2014-15 Final Results: Austin Bruins (38-11-11), 87 points, 1st in Central Div, lost to MN Wilderness, 2-0 in Robertson Cup Final. | Bismarck Bobcats (30-26-4), 64 points, 3rd in Central Div, lost to Minot, 3-0 in Central Division Semifinal.
2014-15 Head to Head:
09/27/14 Austin 4 at Bismarck 2
10/17/14 Austin 0 at Bismarck 3
10/24/14 Bismarck 2 at Austin 4
10/25/14 Bismarck 2 at Austin 5
2015-16 Head to head:
09/18/15 @ Bismarck – 7:15 PM
09/19/15 @ Bismarck – 7:15 PM
11/13/15 @ Bismarck – 7:15 PM
11/14/15 @ Bismarck – 7:05 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. Intermission updates will be posted via @theaustinbruins on Twitter.