Bruins will try to win second straight division title this weekendPublished 5:58pm Thursday, March 27, 2014
The Austin Bruins have a really big weekend ahead of them.
Austin (38-19-1 overall) is clinging to a one point lead in the NAHL Central Division as it heads to third place Bismarck to close out its regular season with a pair of games on Friday and Saturday. The Bobcats are already locked in at the No. 3 seed, but Austin head coach Chris Tok isn’t expecting them to take it easy on the Bruins, who are 12-15-1 overall on the road this season.
“I think they’ll try to send a message that it’ll be a battle if we play them [in the first round],” Tok said. “A couple of wins would put us on a roll against a very good team and a physical opponent. It would be nice to take them out. It’s a pretty big weekend.”
If Austin wins both games against Bismarck, it will clinch its second straight NAHL Central Division title and it would have the No. 1 seed in the NAHL Central Division playoffs, which begin next Friday. If the Bruins lose one or both of their games against the Bobcats, they’ll need some help to get the top seed.
Aberdeen, which trails Austin by one point, has won nine in a row and it plays two games at Wenatche (29-22-7 overall) this Friday and Saturday.
Minot has already clinched the No. 4 seed in the NAHL Central Division playoffs.
Bismarck has ended Austin’s season the last two years and each time their goalie, Minnesota State commit Aaron Nelson played a big role. Nelson is a three-year starter and he has a career record of 66-28-8 overall with a save percentage of 92.1.
Tok said the Bruins will have to try to pile players in front of the net to block Nelson’s vision and make life difficult for him.
“Bismarck carries a big punch,” Tok said. “Their goalie can win a series all by himself. I wouldn’t even classify them as three seed, they’re more of a top seed that just had a rough couple of weeks. I love playing Bismarck. It usually brings out the competitive juices in us.”