FAIRBANKS, AK – Bismarck Bobcats leading scorer and 2010-11 co-captain Matt Gates is the latest Bobcat to commit to a Division I program after deciding on the University of Alaska for 2011-12.
Gates, a native of Palatine, Ill., averaged better than a point-per-game in his only season as a Bobcat—pouring in 27 goals and 31 assists in 56 contests and adding five goals and six assists in 12 playoff games to help the Cats lift their third straight Central Cup.
The playoff run was something that captured the attention of the Nanooks’ coaching staff, along with a common bond UA-Fairbanks has with Bobcat Hockey.
“When [Bobcats assistant] Coach [Adam] Gill played for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, [Nanooks head] Coach [Dallas] Ferguson was his coach there, so Adam made the first connection for us,” noted Gates. “Things started to really pick up when we made our run in the playoffs.”
Gates was a model of durability in 2010-11, bouncing back from a preseason injury that held him out of the Cats’ first two games in September to play in the remaining 56 regular season and all 12 postseason contests. Gates’ most memorable stretch of toughness was, after being knocked out in the closing minutes of a 5-1 win—a game in which he notched five points—over Owatonna on February 4th with a facial laceration that required nine stitches, returning the next night with a goal and two assists against Aberdeen.
Gates was the Cats’ steadiest producer, never going more than three games without a point while racking up 17 multi-point games.
The Nanooks offered a very appealing situation for the Bobcat captain.
“A lot of things went into my decision, but first and foremost is that with Alaska I’ll have a chance to play for solid playing time as a freshman,” said Gates, “but not only that, you look at the CCHA, the teams and the history of that conference—I’ll be playing against some of the best programs in the country.”
UAF has been a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association since 1995—one of the “Big Three” D-I conferences along with the WCHA and Hockey East—a conference that features storied teams such as Michigan State, Miami of Ohio, Lake Superior State and 2011 Frozen Four qualifiers Notre Dame and Michigan.
Gates admits the adjustment to a campus over 3,400 miles—roughly the same distance between New York and London—from his Chicagoland home will be difficult, but he’s embracing the looming change.
“I look at it as a challenge, and I’m actually really looking forward to it,” added Gates, who was twice named NAHL Central Division Player of the Week in 2010-11. “To me, it’s the next phase of my life, the next part of my development as a player.”
While his summer plans may have been unclear as recently as a week ago, Gates says his offseason will be focused on preparing to join the Nanooks this fall.
“Coach Ferguson told me he wants me to spend my summer working out and skating as much as possible,” noted Gates. “A lot of the returning players are in Fairbanks skating and working out by July so I need to make sure I’m ready when I get to campus this fall.”
Gates joins his co-captain Ryan Faragher (St. Cloud State), Charlie Mosey (Dartmouth) and Castan Sommer (Holy Cross) as Bobcats with a Division I commitment.
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2011-12 season! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on reserving your seats for next season!
Bobcat Hockey would like to once again thank all of its fans, staff and sponsors for a wonderful 2010-2011 season—you are part of the team!
2010 ROBERTSON CUP CHAMPIONS