Ram Tough

Throughout the month of August, BismarckBobcats.com will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment covers Bobcats second-year veteran forward Shane Omdahl.

Name: Shane Omdahl
Position: Forward
Hometown: Roseau, MN
2011-12 Team: Bismarck Bobcats
2011-12 Stats: 10 G, 33 A, 43 PTS, +18, 35 PIM
2011-12 Honors: NAHL Three Stars, September 27
Favorite Band: Nickelback
Favorite Pro Sports Team: Minnesota Vikings
Highlight of 2011-12: “Leaving it all on the ice for our last game before Christmas and upsetting the Russian Red Stars in front of our fans.”

Rookie Roller Coaster

When a first-year player arrives in the NAHL fresh out of high school, as Shane Omdahl did after putting up 105 points in two years for the Roseau Rams, there are difficulties that the player must battle through in order to make the transition.

Some of these difficulties include a longer schedule—60 games versus 25—and simply adjusting to a higher level of play.

For the latter, Omdahl seemed to buck the trend out of the gates: piling up four goals and ten assists in his first seven games in black and gold.

“From the start, the coaches and my teammates gave me a lot of confidence,” explained Omdahl, who came to the Bobcats as a tender signee in 2011. “Being able to play with great players like Castan Sommer and Patrick Moore definitely helped me play my game and be a contributor right away.”

Early success, however, can be tricky for any rookie to sustain, and Omdahl proved no exception: after putting up 24 points in his first 21 games, he struggled to register just 19 points in the ensuing 34 games.

“If you look at how the stats break down, Shane hit that wall that a lot of guys out of high school end up hitting right around that 25 game mark of the junior season,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “When your body gets used to playing 25 to 30 games per season, it’s very tough to physically grind through a year that’s twice as long.”

Omdahl, however, kept working hard to overcome his struggles, eventually returning to form in the playoffs. The former Ram contributed six goals and five assists in 11 postseason games, making him the Cats’ fourth-leading playoff scorer.

A combination of mental perseverance and physical dedication, according to Omdahl, helped spur the April renaissance.

“When it gets down to crunch time, when you’re in the playoffs, you have to have the mindset that you’ll go out there every shift and give it your all, and I was able to find that,” recalled Omdahl, who only had one game in the Central Division playoffs without a point. “And working out and sticking with our training program at Healthways kept me strong and in shape to be able to out-work the other teams when it mattered most.”

Roseau Roots

Few Minnesota towns have as close a relationship with Bobcat Hockey as Roseau, which has now sent five Rams on to don the black and gold, including Matt Erickson (1999-2000), Joe Adams (2002-04), Jason Fabian (2008-10) and now Roseau High teammates Omdahl and Adam Knochenmus.

“The hockey tradition in Roseau is second-to-none, no matter what level you’re talking about,” bragged Omdahl about the town of just 2,600, located 10 miles south of the Canadian border. “We have a strong culture of hockey and it’s really cool to be able to carry on that tradition at the junior level.”

Indeed, hockey is a way of life in Roseau, whose high school team is tied for the most high school state titles—one of the most coveted state championships anywhere in the United States—in Minnesota history with seven, along with Twin Cities suburb Edina (a city of 47,000, over 18 times larger than the seat of Roseau County).

Ask any hockey player in Roseau, and they can rattle off myriad NHL’ers to come from the tiny town on State Highway 310. Omdahl was quick to name Miracle on Ice gold medalist Neal Broten, his brothers Aaron and Paul, Butsy Erickson, Mike Baumgartner and 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Dustin Byfuglien.

Given the city’s tight-knit hockey community, Omdahl was quite excited when the Bobcats pulled the trigger on the September 2011 trade to acquire Knochenmus.

“When Layne came up to me before that Friday pre-game skate to tell me we’d made the trade, I was in shock,” said Omdahl of the early-season blockbuster deal. “I was so excited that we’d be reunited—Roseau Ram linemates from 2010.”

Expectation Adjustment

No matter what kind of hype a player receives in high school, when he comes to training camp as a rookie, expectations can be fluid, though optimistic. For a second-year player, however, the expectations are higher all around.

“Looking at a player like Shane, we had high hopes for him as a tendered player coming into last year, but no matter how well you scout a player at a different level, it’s hard to really know what you’re going to get out of a rookie,” assessed Sedevie. “That all changes when you’re a veteran coming back to the team. For Shane, we want him to come back and pick right up where he left off in the playoffs and be a top point-scorer and a guy that we can depend on night in and night out.”

Omdahl, for one, hopes the full scope of his 2011-12 season sets him up to succeed in 2012-13.

“Knowing what to expect helps, but I just want to go out there and play my game,” expressed the second-year forward. “Last year I had a good start but this year the biggest change is that I want to be ready and in the right shape to keep that going for more than a couple months.”

His experience of training camp in 2011 has already altered his preparation for the 2012 preseason, particularly when it comes to the Cats’ dryland training circuit known affectionately as “Hell Week.” Omdahl says that he has been doing the popular 60-day “Insanity” workout plan to stay in shape over the summer.

“Going into training camp last year, I’d heard about ‘Hell Week’ from guys like Fabian, but nothing could really prepare me for it—I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” remembered Omdahl. “This time I’ve been doing ‘Insanity’ and will be doing a lot of running over the next three weeks.

“I want to be ready to jump right in and hit the ground running to prepare for the new season.”

Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com 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. We will be closing out the week on Friday as we feature Jeremy O’Keefe.