Bruins slide in the right direction with a shutout over Bobcats
Published 9:59 pm Friday, February 17, 2023
The Austin Bruins came out as sharp as their skates and they remained as smooth as a cool sheet of ice as they dominated possession from start to finish in a 4-0 win over the Bismarck Bobcats (18-19-2-1 overall) in Riverside Arena Friday night.
Austin (27-10-3-4 overall) had lost two of its previous three games and captain Walter Zacher knows all too well that now is not the time to get complacent after suffering a long losing streak around this time of year last season. On Friday, he did what he could to keep Austin on track as he showed why is one of the top scorers in the NAHL when he slapped a laser from 15-foot out for a goal that put the Bruins up 3-0 in the second. Zacher now has 23 goals on the season and he was ninth in the NAHL headed into Friday’s game.
“We kind of dipped a little bit in the last couple of games and coach (Howard) reminded us to keep our details in mind and be stingy,” Zacher said. “As leaders, we have to make sure we’re on everyone to make sure what happened last year doesn’t happen again. We’ve got a lot of young guys playing big roles and we put ourselves in a good spot. Now we’ve just got to keep it going.”
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Josh Guiliani, who scored two goals on the night, swept in on a rebound to score a put-back goal that made it 2-0 early in the second period.
Dylan Cook added a goal and two assists for Austin, which allowed just 10 shot attempts in the first two periods and 18 shots total.
Trent Wiemken stopped all 18 shots he saw for Austin.
The dominating performance came as a relief to Howard, who recently was talking to another coach about how February can be the toughest month for any hockey team that is playing well.
“It’s tough to keep the guys engaged because we’ve been so focused for five or six months,” Howard said. “It’s easy to motivate your team when you’re trying to stay in the hunt, but we’ve had some injuries and sickness in the last month and a half and we relaxed a little bit on some of our details. We cleaned some things up this week and I was pretty pleased with our game tonight. We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone and our goalie didn’t see a lot of shots.”
The Bruins have a double digit points lead on the second place Aberdeen Wings, which gives them an inside track on the NAHL Central Division title with just 16 games left on the schedule.
Austin’s 59 points headed into Friday’s game were the second most in the NAHL behind only the Oklahoma Warriors (67) and the Maryland Black Bears (60).
“We just stuck to our systems tonight. We’ve been struggling with finishing games as of late, but we just made sure to play all 60 tonight,” Cook said. “After every weekend you have to hit the reset button and look at it as a fresh slate. Anybody in this division can win games.”
Bismarck 0 0 0 – 0
Austin 1 3 0 – 4
(A) Dylan Cook (Austin Salani, Josh Giulani) 9:01
(A) Giulani (Salani, Cook) :29
(A) Walter Zacher (Gavin Morrissey, Ashton Bynum) 8:26
(A) Giulani (Cook, Jack Malinski) 19:58
Shots: Austin – 36; Bismarck – 18
Power plays: Austin – 0-for-4; Bismarck – 0-for-5