24 in 24 Series: Bismarck Bobcats
August 20, 2016
The 24 in 24 series features a look at all 24 teams in the NAHL for the 2016-17 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 24 in 24 looks into each NAHL team and will include video interviews with all 24 head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Head Coach: Layne Sedevie (7th year)
2015-16 record: 37-19-4, 78 pts. (1st in the Central Division)
2015-16 leading scorer: Aaron Herdt (52 pts.)
2016 Playoffs: Won the Central Division, lost in the Robertson Cup Championship Semi-Finals
2016-17 Division: Central
First regular season game: Saturday, September 17th vs. Aberdeen Wings
Home opener: Saturday, September 17th vs. Aberdeen Wings
The last time Bismarck had more than 37 wins, which was their total this past season, was in 2011-12, so all signs pointed to something special with Layne Sedevie’s group and rightfully so. The team had a veteran goaltender between the pipes in Hunter Shepard, who not only won the NAHL Goaltender of the Year Award, but also committed to play NCAA Division I hockey to the University of Minnesota-Duluth during the season.
Bismarck also won the Central Division regular season and playoff titles, advancing them to familiar territory in Robertson Cup Championship. Despite dropping two games to the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the National Semi-Finals, the Bobcats had another great season. On top of the success on the ice, was the success in the commitment department, as 11 players with Bobcat ties make NCAA commitments during last season. For those efforts in addition to all of their work in the Bismarck/Mandan community, the team was also honored as the Central Division Organization of the Year this past season.
The core of another great Bobcats team will be moving onto the next levels of hockey, which also includes a large chuck of leadership, including players like team captain and NAHL Community Service Award winner Cole Souto. However, head Layne Sedevie said that it is one of the things that makes junior hockey unique. “I think it is one of the challenging things about junior hockey is the fact that everyone moves on after a couple of years. We lost 14 guys from last year’s team that had some great accomplishments, so we needed a little bit of everything. Our main focus was just building the best hockey team we can,” said Sedevie.
Sedevie said that the goal for the 2016-17 season, which will be the 20th of Bobcats hockey, remains to win a Robertson Cup for the Bobcats. Bismarck won the title in 2010 and has consistently been one of the staples at the event since they joined the league back in 2003. “I think our goal remains to win a Robertson Cup. When you are focused on that and have a common goal, everything else tends to fall into place. I think the other thing is commitments. We want to develop guys and move them on, so hopefully they can look back on their time and experience with us and believe they made the right decision for their hockey careers.”
The Bobcats will start the season at home with a game on September 17th against the Aberdeen Wings. The challenge then heightens at the NAHL Showcase where they will face both Aston and Wichita Falls, both of whom made the Robertson Cup Finals last season, along with Lone Star and the Minnesota Magicians. Sedevie said that the Showcase is an event he looks forward to every season in large part because of all the people there. “I think for me there is some personal gratification in just seeing all the people at the Showcase. That includes every NHL team and all of the NCAA guys. It is testament to the maturation process of how the NAHL has built it into such a great event,” said Sedevie.
Sedevie will enter the season as the most tenured coach with any team in the league, as he begins his 7th season behind bench for the Bobcats. He believes that the reason that the NAHL is one of the best junior leagues in North America is the commitments. “You look at the coaches, owners and staff in this league, who all make it their number one priority to move players on. The fact that the league had so many commitments this past season is a great sign because the number continues to grow each season. I think that is validated in the comments and conversations with the NCAA coaches, who continue to remark and believe that the NAHL is a very good league to play in if the next step is the NCAA. It is something we are all proud of.”
Sedevie said that as the Bobcats enter training camp and prepare to start the season, he is looking for a team that works hard. “We just want to work hard. We don’t want to end a game saying we have been outworked. We know our Division is always tough and with the addition of the Minnesota Wilderness, I think it became even tougher. Every game is going to be a battle and we know that,” said Sedevie. “Being from this area, we take personal pride in playing in one the best junior hockey buildings in the US. It is special place to play. We have such passionate fans behind us and the support we get is pretty special.”
Next up in the 24 in 24 series: Brookings Blizzard