Coming off a bye week, the Bismarck Bobcats are hoping to build some momentum.
The last time the Bobcats hit the ice, they took three of four points over a pair of weekend games against St. Cloud at the VFW Sports Center, falling in overtime the Norsemen on Friday before posting a 2-1 win on Saturday to win the series.
Now after a week off, the Bobcats hit the road for a weekend series with the NAHL Central Division’s second-place team, the North Iowa Bulls.
“Coming off a bye week, we hope there’s some traction there, we can keep trending in the right direction,” Bobcats coach and general manager Layne Sedevie said.
The Bobcats tried to make the most of the down time between games.
“Big picture, even last week, we didn’t want to have a throwaway week,” Sedevie said. “We needed to work on things, work on our systems, work on our power play, which has struggled. It’s making sure every day we step on the ice, we’re getting better. There’s a lot of work to be done right now.”
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The Bobcats are off to a 3-10-1 start, looking to build off the Norsemen series.
“We were more consistent,” Sedevie said. “We kind of had our most consistent back to back efforts, got good goaltending, didn’t make so many mistakes.
“A big thing is, we’ve played well on Friday and taken a step back on Saturday. We found a way to get a point on Friday and then had a good effort on Saturday. We’re trying to focus on taking care of our own end. We haven’t struggled to score goals, we’ve been giving up four or five goals a game and you can’t win games like that. It was nice to get a 2-1 win. We buckled down. We haven’t been able to do that all year.”
And it came against a good St. Cloud team.
“They’re a good team. St. Cloud had a good team last year and they’ve got the whole team back this year,” Sedevie said. “It was good to get three of four. We haven’t done that all year.”
The Bobcats have another challenge this weekend as they look for their first road wins of the season. Bismarck is 3-3-1 on home ice but 0-7 away from the VFW Sports Center.
“We took a step in the right direction having back-to-back solid efforts,” Sedevie said.
That kind of effort is what is needed in the NAHL. Now they just have to find the winning effort level on the road.
“It’s magnified on the road, too. Not that it’s easy at home, but we have to break the ice on the road and win games away from home and our fans," Sedevie said. "It’s tough to win games and get points when you’re on the road.”
It will be the Bobcats’ first matchup with the Bulls, who are off to an 8-4-2 start and trail Austin by four points in the Central Division. And Sedevie is familiar with Bulls coach Todd Sanden, who was formerly with the Coulee Region Chill in the NAHL.
“They’ve had a good start,” Sedevie said. “They have got some good veteran guys. It’s a new page for us but we have some video to break down. They’re a good team.”
Chris Carroll (2-14 – 16) and Max Scott (4-11 – 15) lead the Bulls in scoring, while Carter Rapalje has a team-high six goals and Logan Dombrowsky and rookie Hunter Bulger have five apiece.
Hunter Garver is 4-2-0 with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in net for the Bulls.
Rookies Drew Holt (3-8 – 11) and Jake McLean (2-7 – 9) lead the Bobcats in scoring. Eddie Shepler leads the team with four goals, one on the power play and one shorthanded.
Erik Forss is 3-5-1 with a 4.02 GAA and an .885 save percentage for the Bobcats.