Like last season, the final game for the Bruins will be in Bismarck at VFW Sports Center. Unfortunately, the stakes will be quite different. The Bruins headed out to North Dakota’s capital last May to play a winner-take-all game five of the Division Finals against their rivals, ultimately falling short in a three-game comeback attempt and watching the Bobcats hoist the Central Cup. This season, both teams are on the precipice of missing the postseason altogether – the Bruins having been already eliminated, and the Bobcats needing two wins plus help out of town to make it and get the chance to defend their title.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR –
Shining Schilling: Alex Schilling put on one of the more impressive weekend goaltending performances of the season last weekend as the Bruins took three of four points for Minot. Schilling made 71 of 74 possible saves, facing 37 shots both nights as the Bruins dropped an OT game on Friday before shutting out the ‘Tauros 3-0 on Saturday. Schilling’s shutout was the first of his NAHL career. He was named the NAHL’s Central Division First Star of the Week as a result.
Must win: Bismarck enters play three points behind Brookings for the fourth and final divisional playoff spot, needing a sweep of the Bruins and a pair of wins from the Wings to make it in. The good news for the Bobcats is that the Bruins haven’t won a game at VFW Sports Center since November of 2015, which is still their only victory in that building under Kyle Grabowski (1-10-0).
Quinning: Rookie forward Quinn Martin has gotten into a nice groove after scoring his first two NAHL goals in consecutive games, and now has five points on the season, all since February 24th. Martin, who recently turned 18, was added to the roster in late January from the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and has been in and out of the lineup periodically. His recent production however, has gotten him time with the Bruins top forward line and he has made the most of it.
Scary Barry: Of Bismarck’s league-leading 12 shorthanded goals, possessing a third of their total output is rookie forward Matt Barry, with four. Barry is also Bismarck’s leading point scorer, with 59 – a mark also tying him for the NAHL lead among rookies, with Brookings’ Paul Cotter. Barry recently saw an 11-game point streak end when he failed to register one last Friday.
THE MATCHUP –
Central Division Standings:
*clinched playoff spot
2016-17 Head to Head (Bismarck leads 7-3-0)
09/30/16 Austin 4 at Bismarck 5
10/01/16 Austin 3 at Bismarck 4
10/14/16 Bismarck 1 at Austin 4
10/15/16 Bismarck 2 at Austin 1
11/04/16 Bismarck 2 at Austin 5
11/05/16 Bismarck 2 at Austin 5
12/16/16 Austin 1 at Bismarck 5
12/17/16 Austin 2 at Bismarck 4
03/10/17 Bismarck 4 at Austin 3/SO
03/11/17 Bismarck 5 at Austin 1
04/07/17 @ Bismarck – 7:15 PM
04/08/17 @ Bismarck – 7:15 PM
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAMES –
|4/7/17||7:15||Bismarck Bobcats||VFW Sports Center||Hoot & Ole’s||HockeyTV (AWAY)||NONE|
|4/8/17||7:15||Bismarck Bobcats||VFW Sports Center||Hoot & Ole’s||HockeyTV (AWAY)||AM 1480 KAUS|
The puck drops at 7:15 on Friday and Saturday night from VFW Sports Center in Bismarck, as the Bruins close out the season. Broadcast coverage will begin on HockeyTV ten minutes prior to puck drop, with the “AWAY” feed carrying the Bruins broadcast. Saturday’s game will also be available on the radio airwaves of AM 1480 KAUS and online at myaustinminnesota.com. Fans are encouraged to catch the game at Hoot & Ole’s Tavern – the official home of Bruins away games.