Roughrider State

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 forward Matt Anders.

Name: Matt Anders

Position: Forward

Hometown: Lafayette, CO

2011-12 Team: Rocky Mountain Roughriders AAA

2011-12 Stats: 40 GP, 15 G, 23 A, 38 PTS, 58 PIM

Favorite Movie: Happy Gilmore

Favorite Food: Crab Legs

Highlight of 2011-12: “When we played at the end of the year showcase in Chicago and played some of our best hockey with some important faces in the crowd.”

Offseason Shuffle

In the game of player recruitment, the old axiom of “better lucky than good” often applies and, for the Bismarck Bobcats, luck played a large part in signing Matt Anders to a tender agreement.

Though the Bobcats had interest in Anders through his season with the Rocky Mountain Roughriders, the 6’2” forward had already tendered with the Midwest Division’s St. Louis Bandits, making him off-limits to any other team in the NAHL.

When the 2011-12 season ended, however, it came to light that the Bandits franchise would go dark for the upcoming season, making all players on the St. Louis protected list available to be signed to tenders.

“When St. Louis called and told me that I was basically a free agent, I was pretty worried for my future,” confessed Anders, “but Coach Sedevie and the Bobcats contacted me pretty quickly about playing in Bismarck, which was a huge relief.”

The Bobcats’ early commitment to the Lafayette, Colo., native was rewarded when Anders signed a tender agreement, placing him onto the Cats’ 30-man protected list.

Being an offensively talented player with a big frame, Anders continued to receive offers from other leagues as the offseason progressed but never wavered on his promise to Sedevie to attend the Bobcats’ Main Camp in late July.

It was his experience at the three-day tryout at the VFW Sports Center cemented Anders’ resolve to be a part of Bobcat Hockey.

“Being in Bismarck, seeing the city and talking to the veteran players over that weekend, it made me sure that it was the right fit,” explained Anders. “The Bobcats are a great program and everyone that I spoke with told me that this is where I need to be.”

Centennial State of Mind

In Sedevie’s four years with Bobcat Hockey, the state of Colorado has been a key recruitment area, having produced Bobcat standouts such as Casey Kleisinger (Air Force), Ryan Jacobson (Brown), Aaron Quick (Air Force), Ryan Massa (Nebraska-Omaha), Dan Zawacki and Buster Hebda, to name a few.

“Scouting Colorado and having an open camp near Denver has been huge for us,” noted Sedevie, “especially when you consider guys like Massa and Jacobson were not drafted and not tendered, made our team through open camp and are big-time D-I players.”

Considering how small a world the hockey community can be, the Bobcats’ Colorado connection was critical—on both sides—when Sedevie began his pursuit of Anders.

“When we got the news about St. Louis, I got a call right away from [team scout] Aaron Venasky saying that Matt Anders was a guy I needed to talk to,” told Sedevie. “Then he mentioned to me that Matt was from Boulder, so the first thing I did was call Dan Zawacki.

“Danny told me that he was a great player and would be great for us, so I knew we wanted him here.”

Anders’ personal connection with Zawacki gave him a big nudge toward wearing the Black and Gold.

“Dan’s a guy that I have played pretty much my whole life,” said Anders, “and he’s a guy whose opinion I really trust. So when Dan Zawacki says ‘this is the place you need to play,’ that’s something that I take pretty seriously.”

There and Back Again

Despite the fact that 2012-13 will be Anders’ first year in the NAHL, it will not be his first year in juniors; the 1993-born forward first played juniors during the 2010-11 season at the Tier III level with the Boulder Junior Bison before deciding to play AAA for the Roughriders last season.

“Playing for the Bison was fun because I got to be kind of a hometown hero, playing for the local junior team,” cited Anders. “But when the league they were in decided to leave USA Hockey, I made the decision to go and play for Rocky Mountain, which got more exposure—with D-I and top junior scouts in attendance at every game.”

Nonetheless, Anders’ junior experience has him prepared mentally to get started with the Bobcats.

“It helps to know what to expect. I’ve been on the ice four days a week and in the weight room five days a week,” Anders pointed out. “And the Bobcats coaches have also done a good job of making their expectations clear to me, including conditioning.

“They told me all about ‘Hell Week,’ so I’ve been training hard to be ready when we report later this month.”

Anders’ skill and blue-collar attitude will make him a fast favorite among fans in Bismarck/Mandan.

“I want to be able to go out and put up points and contribute offensively, but without losing any of that third line grinder mentality.”

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 Bryan Nies, Evan Giesler and Levi Blom.