December 21, 2012 - North American Hockey League (NAHL) - Bismarck Bobcats
ONALASKA, WI - The Bismarck Bobcats will wrap up the first half of the 2012-13 regular season as they take on the Coulee Region Chill for a lone game Saturday at 7:00 PM at the Omni Center.
"Saturday is a big game and we want to close out strong heading into the Christmas break," stated Bobcats defenseman Nate Repensky, in his first year along the Bobcat blueline. "Coulee Region had a bit of a speed bump Thursday [in a 4-0 loss to Minot] but they're coming off a good weekend where they swept Aberdeen so we need to play our best against them, especially in their barn."
Coulee Region has found success of late on the shoulders of 18-year-old goaltender Blake Cates, who has allowed just six goals in his last three games, helping pave his way to earning Central Division Star of the Week honors on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats ride into Onalaska off a weekend split against the Minotauros looking to pick up momentum heading into the second half; the Cats have gone 8-3-1 in their last 12 games after a 7-9-1 start to the season.
One key to the Cats' resurgence has been goaltending, with Aaron Nelson posting seven of those eight wins while dropping his GAA to 1.86 and upping his SV% to .936; fellow netminder Bryan Nies is 1-0-0 in three games in that span while maintaining a 2.92 GAA of his own on the year.
Despite the recent run of success, the Bobcats are hoping to increase their offensive output; the Cats rank fourth out of six teams in the Central Division with 2.69 goals per game.
"We, as a staff, need our offense to work hard and start to produce gritty, hard-working goals," illustrated Bobcats assistant coach Garrett Roth. "We're not producing good offense when we're a perimeter team. If we want to play along the perimeter, we're going to average about two-and-three-quarters goals per game. And that's not going to cut it."
To help bolster the offense, the Bobcats executed a mid-week trade with the Fargo Force for 1993 birth-year forward Stanislav Dzakhov, who has 20 points in the last season-and-a-half in the USHL. The trade was made possible by the NAHL's Wednesday announcement that USA Hockey had raised each team's roster limit on imported players from two to four, effective immediately.
Saturday's first half finale will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at b4fc0f&id93b9a4fc61&e43c657e6ea. Pregame coverage gets under way at 7:30 PM.