Net Gains

Throughout the month of August, will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment covers Bobcats rookie goaltender Bryan Nies.

Name: Bryan Nies

Position: Goalie

Hometown: Grand Forks, ND

2011-12 Team: Red River High School

2011-12 Stats: 23 GP, 21-1-0, 1.24 GAA, .929 SV%, 368 SV, 7 SO

Childhood NHL Idol: Patrick Roy

Favorite Band: Coldplay

Highlight of 2011-12: “Being able to be a part of such a great run and do something special (undefeated regular season) with such a great group of guys”

The Run

Before coming to the Bismarck Bobcats, Bryan Nies was a part of a special run with Red River High School during the 2011-12 North Dakota high school hockey season as the Roughriders put together an undefeated regular season, posting a 21-0-0 record.

“We knew we had the pieces in place from our state championship run [in 2011] to have something really great,” noted Nies, who as a junior in 2010-11 went 18-5-0 to anchor the Roughriders’ title run, “and I guess you could say things went according to plan.”

Red River came ripping out of the gates to open the 2011-12 campaign, outscoring their opponents by a 48-8 margin in the first month of the season.

Even through the grind of the NAHL season, the Roughriders’ run managed to catch the attention of the Bobcats.

“Everybody in the state of North Dakota knew about the season that Red River was putting together last year,” credited Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, who played his high school hockey at Bismarck High. “It was pretty big news, even for West Region guys like me. Everyone would follow them game-by-game to see if they could keep it going.”

At the center of the Roughriders’ otherworldly tear was Nies, who piled up a total record of 21-1-0 while submitting his second straight season with a GAA below 2.00. Such a steady presence in net caught the eyes of Sedevie, a former goaltender himself.

“Bryan is a winner, and you can’t teach that,” assessed Sedevie of Nies, who over four years compiled a record of 53-13-1 in net for Red River. “And you watch him play and it makes perfect sense as to why he’s been so good for so long out there.

“He’s just 5’10”, which is a bit below average for a goalie, but he plays like he’s 6’3”. He does all those little things right.”

Though the run ended in a 5-3 state semifinal loss to Grafton/Park River, Nies looks back fondly on the experience.

“The best part was that we were such a close team and had so much fun together. We made a lot of great memories as a team.”

Net Attraction

When the Bobcats came calling for Nies to sign a tender agreement for 2012-13, it was a no-brainer for the Red River goalie.

“I always knew that if I made it to the North American League, I wanted to play in Bismarck,” asserted Nies. “It’s a strong program with a great history that everybody in North Dakota knows about.”

While tradition played its role in Nies’ decision, the key factor was the team’s track record with goalies, especially since Sedevie has been on the staff.

“It’s really exciting to be working with Coach Sedevie, because he’s a goalie too, and that’s a pretty unique thing at the junior level,” said Nies. “Lots of coaches just say ‘Get in there and stop pucks, you’ll be fine,’ but Coach has been there and he has that shared experience that I really connect with as a goalie.”

The Bobcats’ reputation in developing goalies continues to boom, as the franchise has had nine consecutive goaltenders go on to play Division I: Aaron Walski, North Dakota; Tim Krystosek, Air Force; Jake Kremer, Minnesota; Matt Grogan, Connecticut; David Bosner, Air Force; Ryan Faragher, St. Cloud State; Ryan Massa, Nebraska-Omaha; Jake Williams, Mercyhurst; and Tommy Burke, Bowling Green.

“Unreal,” marveled Nies. “It’s hard to imagine that many goalies in a row going D-I, but it’s an honor to be a part of that, now.”

Bring It On

Goaltenders are always a fearless bunch, and Bryan Nies’ earliest experiences in hockey may be a bit instructive as to why he ultimately chose to stand between the pipes for a career path.

“When I started playing as a little kid, I hated having to wear a helmet. I loved playing without a helmet, so when they told me I had to wear one, I actually quit.”

Though he’s always been unusually bold on the ice, Nies has not always been a goalie.

“From second grade until fifth grade, I switched around between skating out and playing goal,” recalled Nies. “Then in fifth grade I decided to stick with being a goalie.”

What, you may ask, made him take such a path?

“When I was in grade school I’d watch the NHL and watch Patrick Roy with the Colorado Avalanche and it always seemed so cool that the goalie had the biggest impact on the game,” reminisced Nies. “If you have a great night and win the game, everyone loves you; if you have an off night and your team loses, you’re kind of the goat.

“I really like that kind of pressure."

Stay tuned to over the next month as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2012-13 season. This week we will also feature Evan Giesler and Levi Blom.