One for the Books

Monday Roundup: Curtain Falls on Season Eighteen
 
Last Week:
Friday, April 10: Minotauros 2, Bobcats 1
 
Chin Up
 
BISMARCK, ND – Though the eighteenth season of Bobcat Hockey has come to an unexpectedly early close, the Bismarck Bobcats are still proud of the accomplishments accrued by the latest iteration of the Black and Gold.
 
For starters, the Bobcats welcomed 38,349 fans through the turnstiles at the VFW Sports Center, the second-highest regular-season total in franchise history (38,465, 2013-14). All told, the North American Hockey League saw its fourth straight year of over a million fans during the regular season with a league-wide total of 1,012,204.
 
On the ice, third-year forward and co-captain Evan Giesler made his own assault on the franchise record books, piling up a career-best 56 points (28g, 28a) in 59 appearances to take his place on four major Bobcat career stat lists: goals (3rd, 51); assists (T-5th, 64); points (3rd, 115); and games played (5th, 154).
 
Goaltender Alex Bitsakis also jumped into a fifth-place tie on the team’s single-season shutout standings with three.
 
The Bobcats also earned more international renown as, for the third straight year, they placed a current or former player on the NHL Central Scouting Draft List. Roope Hintz, a part of the Bobcats in 2012-13 before electing to play professionally in Finland, ranked 14th among Eurpoean skaters on the service’s ratings—the highest a Bobcat has ever been listed on any Central Scouting slate. A top 15 rating on any of the four sections (divided between North American and European skaters and goalies) indicates that the player is very likely to be selected in the first or second round of the NHL Entry Draft.
 
In 18 seasons of junior hockey, the Bobcats have only had one alum taken in the NHL Draft: James Massen (1998-99), selected in the fifth round of the 2001 draft by the New Jersey Devils.
 
With the end of the season comes its attendant turnover: the Bobcats will be losing the services of Giesler and Bitsakis—both aging out of junior eligibility—along with Matt Perry, who will be joining Giesler at the Division I level next season with the US Air Force Academy.
 
Hopes run high, however, as 20 of the 23 players on the Cats’ year-end roster are eligible to return for 2015-16, including four of the team’s top five scorers: Cullen Willox (22g, 27a); Jared Spooner (9g, 34a); Willie Brown (11g, 22a); and Tanner Salsberry (12g, 20a).
 
Also qualifying for a return is goaltender Hunter Shepard, who rallied from a 1-7-0 start in 2014-15 with -a mark of 13-7-1.
 
Bobcat Hockey would like to thank all of its sponsors, game night staff, volunteers, billet families and—most of all—the fans of Bismarck/Mandan for making Season Eighteen another smashing success in the capital region.
 
Season tickets are now on sale for 2015-16; if you want to beat the rush of 40,000 fans for next season, now is the time! Call 222-3300 today to reserve your seats.