Bruins are ready for the Bobcats

Published 3:11 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Austin Bruins run through drills Tuesday at Riverside Arena as the team gears up for its NAHL Central Division Championship series against the Bismarck Bobcats which starts this Friday and Saturday in Bismarck. -- Eric Johnson/

It’s about to get physical for the Austin Bruins.

After taking care of Alexandria in four games, Austin (39-19-6 overall) will now take on Bismarck, N.D. (48-14-2 overall) in the NAHL Central Division Championship Series with a trip to the Robertson Cup on the line.

The Bobcats won the Central Division this season and they took seven of 12 matchups from the Bruins, while outscoring Austin 37-34 in those games.

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“It would be huge to beat them,” said Austin defenseman Trevor Waldoch, who has committed Air Force Academy and has 27 points this season. “They’ve been on top of the Central Division for far too long and we’ve got to step up and take them down.”

The Bruins' Connor Quinn, middle, runs through drills with the team Tuesday at Riverside Arena. The Bruins are gearing up for its NAHL Central Division Championship series against the Bismarck Bobcats which starts this Friday and Saturday in Bismarck.

While Alexandria tested the Bruins’ speed, Austin head coach Chris Tok said the Bobcats will test their strength. He said it’s important for the Bruins to move the puck as quickly as possible and not stand around.

“If you hold on to the puck and play one and one, you’re going to get smoked,” Tok said. “I don’t think they’re going to intimidate us, they’re just a very physical team and we’re fine with that. We’re going to let them come and maybe even take advantage of their aggressiveness.”

The series will begin in Bismarck Friday at 7:15 p.m., but the following weekend it will come back to Austin, where the Bruins drew over 1,500 fans on back-to-back nights in their playoff series with Alexandria.

For Austin grad John Kirby, who has 31 points this season with the Bruins, it was almost surreal to Riverside Arena so packed and alive.

“It’s just been crazy and hopefully it stays like that,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s like an extra player for us.”

Kirby said that Austin now knows what to expect from the NAHL playoffs after getting the franchise’s first ever postseason series out of the way.

“It was a lot more intense than the regular season,” Kirby said. “Every game is do or die and you’re always desperate and always trying to get the first goal in. I feel like it’ll be like that the entire playoff run.”

Tok is expecting another competitive series and he hopes his players are focusing more on what they can do than what the Bobcats will do.

“It was pretty even (between us in the regular season),” Tok said. “They know it’s gonna be tight match and it’s basically going to come down to goal tenders playing well and doing the little things to win.”

The winner of the Austin-Bismarck series will play in the Robertson Cup Championship, which is held May 3-May 8 in Frisco, Texas.


Friday — Austin at Bismarck, 7:15 p.m.

Saturday — Austin at Bismarck, 7:15 p.m.

April 27 — Bismarck at Austin, 7:05 p.m.

April 28 — Bismarck at Austin, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)

April 30 — Austin at Bismarck, 7:15 p.m. (if necessary)