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Starting Blocks

Season Nineteen Begins as Bobcats Host Bruins
 
BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats will open their 19th season of junior hockey in the state capital at 7:15pm Friday when they welcome the defending Central Division champion Austin Bruins to the VFW Sports Center for Coors Light Opening Night.
 
Friday marks the first time the Cats will open the NAHL season at home since 2005.
 
Coming off their earliest playoff exit under head coach Layne Sedevie, the Bobcats return 14 players from a 2014-15 squad hungry for redemption.
 
“With the standard of winning that Bobcat Hockey has built, losing out of the first round of the playoffs was disappointing,” admitted second-year forward Jared Pike, who notched 23 points (12g, 11a) in his final 35 appearances in 2014-15, for a season-long total of 28. “But out of that, we have a group of guys who understand what it takes to win in the North American Hockey League—and what it feels like when you don’t.”
 
Among the 14 Bobcat veterans are 25-plus point-scorers Pike, Willie Brown and Oskars Batna, Select-17 Camp invitee Johnny Witzke and former Minnesota Frank Brimsek Award-winning goalie Hunter Shepard.
 
Austin, on the other hand, enters in the wake of major offseason changes: departed is long-time head coach Chris Tok, replaced by former Brookings Blizzard assistant Kyle Grabowski. Also gone are 19 players from the roster that helped the Bruins capture their second consecutive Central Cup in 2015—including Nashville Predators NHL Draft pick Evan Smith; only Derek Olmschenk, Luke Forfar, Jade Miller and Zach Kennedy remain.
 
“During practice this week, newer players were asking what we might expect from Austin on special teams,” related Sedevie, who enters his sixth campaign as the Cats’ bench boss, “and the last five seasons, I would’ve had a good answer for that. Now with Kyle taking over, it’s going to be a completely new look for the Bruins—which makes them hard to gameplan for.”
 
Between the unknowns of Austin and the Bobcats’ youthful roster—featuring seven players born in 1997 or 1998—the blueprint for opening weekend will be somewhat basic.
 
“Our guys need to play simple and give a full effort,” offered Sedevie, who has a career record of 3-2-0 in season openers. “It’s easy to say, much tougher to execute. But we know that with the talent we have on this team, hard work and smart plays will help carry that talent to unbelievable levels.”
 
The two teams will wrap up their season-opening series Saturday with another 7:15pm tilt.
 
Tickets are now on sale for the 2015-16 regular season lidlifter: fans can buy and print tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com.
 
Coors Light Opening Night will be broadcast live on locally SuperTalk 1270 AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com—the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League—with pregame coverage starting at 6:45pm.
 
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2015-16 campaign; 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.