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NA Now: Bismarck Bobcats

August 11, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the 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.

Bismarck Bobcats

Head Coach: Layne Sedevie (14th Season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 29-25-6, 64 pts. (5th in the Central Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Adam Pietila (50 points)

2023 Playoffs: Did not qualify

2023-24 Division: Central

First regular season game: Wednesday, September 13th vs. New Hampshire Mountain Kings

Home opener: Friday, September 29th vs. North Iowa Bulls

It was a little bit of déjà vu last season for the Bismarck Bobcats who were again right in the heart of some late regular season drama to make the post-season. The season prior, the Bobcats got off to a poor start, but a late season surge saw them clinch a playoff spot with 29 wins and 62 points. In 2022-23, the same thing happened as the Bobcats again started slow, but by the end of the year were playing as good as anyone in the division.

Despite the same number of wins (29) and two more points (64) as the playoff team from the season before, the Bobcats fell a point short of the playoffs as they tied with Minot for the final spot, but had two less wins to lose out on the tie-breaker to get in.

“The first half of the season has really been our Achilles heel the past two seasons. For some reason, we just don’t get off to the start we want and are in scramble mood almost right from the start. In the second half of the season, we have had one of the best teams in the division the last two years, so the talent is there and we know how to win. Now it’s a matter of getting it done all season long and being consistent,” said Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie, who will be entering his 14th season as head coach.

The Bobcats had another great season of NCAA commitments from their players with 13 players ending the season committed to NCAA schools and another five alumni that were with the Bobcats the year prior also making commitments. Sedevie says it’s one of the main reasons that keeps him coming back after 15 years with the same organization. “Seeing a player commit never gets old and it’s the reason I keep doing this after all these years. The NAHL has developed into a powerhouse for NCAA commitments. It’s really cool to see where we started to where we are now. There’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into developing a player and to see him and his family realize that dream is something that motivates you to keep doing it.”

As for the 2023-24 Bobcats, they are going to be stacked with veteran players who should be able to help the team get off to the start they want. “It takes a while to get adjusted to the NAHL, so with a younger team it’s going to take time. Fortunately for us this season, we have a pretty good number of veterans coming back, so hopefully that’s not an issue. I think in the Draft and throughout our camps we added some guys with junior experience so we will hopefully have a better start and be more consistent this season,” said Sedevie.

Leading the way up front will be Patrick Johnson, who has had a solid NAHL career with the Bobcats to this point and is hoping his final season leads to more individual and team success. A year ago, Johnson was 2nd in team scoring with 47 points in 58 games played. “When I think about the kind of player and leader I want in my lockerroom, he’s the guy that comes to mind. He represents us the right way on and off the ice,” said Sedevie.

Watch: NA Now video interview with Layne Sedevie

Also returning up front, the Bobcats have Evan Hunter (39 points), Julian Beaumont (38 points), Brandon Reller (32 points), Kyle Doll (15 points), and Nolan Nenow. Along the blueline Chase Beacom (20 points) returns for his fourth and final season in a Bobcats uniform, and other returning defensemen include Luke Roelofs (19 points), Ian Engel (6 points), and Landon Fandel (6 points).

The Bobcats will also get a huge boost with the return of their starting goalie from a year ago, Linards Lipskis, who is committed to play NCAA D1 hockey for Northern Michigan. In 2022-23, Lipskis appeared in 35 games and posted a 17-13-4 record with a 2.46 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.

“It’s a long season and the Central Division is such a tight race every year. You have to know when to hard on players and when to show them love, but they have to respect you no matter what. To get the best out of them, it must be a two-way street,” said Sedevie. “We would like to get off to a good start at the Showcase. It is such a great event with so many scouts and hockey people. We are looking forward to hopefully playing well.”

Next up: Colorado Grit

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