Vegas Gold

Know Your Bobcat – Brendan Harris

Throughout the months of August and September, BismarckBobcats.com will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features Bobcat rookie forward Brendan Harris.

Name: Brendan Harris

Position: Forward

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 150 lbs.

2012-13 Team: California Titans 16U

2012-13 Stats: 20 GP, 15 G, 26 A, 41 PTS, 10 PIM

College Commitment: St. Cloud State University, NCHC

Favorite Movie Genre: Horror movies

Favorite Food: Sushi

Highlight of 2012-13: “When I accepted the offer to play my college hockey at St. Cloud State, it was pretty much a feeling of overwhelming joy.”

Cloud Nine

When Brendan Harris is finished with his time as a Bismarck Bobcat, he will move on to play his collegiate hockey at St. Cloud State University in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

“Being committed to play college hockey is a really great feeling on a number of levels,” admitted Harris, who comes to the Bobcats from the California Titans NAPHL program, “first because it’s fantastic to know that I have a spot to look forward to at the next level and even more importantly that it’s one major thing I don’t have to worry about. I can focus on hockey and the Bobcats.”

The Bobcats and Huskies are certainly not strangers: former Bobcat netminder Ryan Faragher is going into his junior season in St. Cloud, having backstopped the Huskies to the 2013 Frozen Four.

“We have a great relationship with Coach Bob Motzko and his staff,” explained Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “On more than one occasion he and [assistant coach] John Gibbons have given our players campus tours in the fall and advised them on the recruiting process.

“Having a player on our team in Brendan that has the St. Cloud State seal of approval, if you will, carries a lot of weight with our program.”

Harris sees the Bobcats as great preparation to step into his roster spot in St. Cloud.

“Bismarck is a premier program in the NAHL and the training program is top-notch,” lauded Harris, who completed his second day of the Cats’ vaunted “Hell Week” regimen Tuesday. “[Team fitness director] Mike Salwei is one of the best strength coaches for hockey players in all of junior hockey, so I feel like I’m already training at a college level.”

But, of course, Harris still has his junior career between now and his time in college. The St. Cloud State staff had some advice for him on how to approach his time in Bismarck/Mandan.

“They told me to have fun, to enjoy my time in juniors,” Harris relayed. “They said it’s a great time of my life and that I need to go out and make the most of it.”

Viva Las Vegas

When you think of hotspots for player recruitment in the NAHL, you usually think of places like Chicago, Minnesota, Michigan or New England, but lately you could throw Brendan Harris’ hometown, Las Vegas, into the mix.

Sin City has produced impact NAHL’ers like Cory Ward, Joe Sullivan and Jason Zucker—who played in the NAHL in 2008-09 and is now a winger for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

According to Harris, there’s one man behind the success of young hockey players in southern Nevada: former Quebec Nordique Ken Quinney, who also spent time in the IHL with the Las Vegas Thunder, and there he stayed to help cultivate the next generation of hockey players in a highly unconventional market.

“Zucker, Ward, Sullivan, myself and any other name you can think of have played for Coach Quinney over the years,” praised Harris. “I worked directly with him from Mites through Peewees and even now when I’m back home over the summer I get together with Coach Quinney to work on things.

“I only see things going up for the next wave of kids from the area, as Coach Quinney is back working with younger guys and will have the next group of great players ready to go before you know it.”

One formula that usually applies to cultivating interest in hockey in a non-traditional market is to bring an NHL team into the area and let the fervor over the new franchise turn into swelling youth hockey numbers. Though Forbes Magazine rated Vegas the number three fastest-growing major city in America in 2013, they have never had an NHL franchise, making the accomplishments of Ken Quinney and his charges all the more impressive.

Las Vegas is certainly not devoid of professional hockey, having the Thunder play out of UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center from 1993 until 1999 and then the Las Vegas Wranglers—who play out of Orleans Arena to this day—starting in 2003.

“The Wranglers are great and do a good job of bringing hockey into Vegas,” noted Harris, who was all of six years old when the Wranglers opened the Orleans Arena. “One great thing I remember was when Peter and Chris Ferraro played for them; having former NHL’ers who are great in the community was awesome.”

Student Athlete

As a seventeen year-old on the Bobcat roster, Brendan Harris finds himself in the familiar spot of juggling being a Bobcat and being a high school student.

“I’m here in Bismarck with two goals: playing hockey for the Bismarck Bobcats and getting a great education,” stressed Harris, who is enrolled as a senior at Bismarck High School.

He went through a similar situation last season, playing 300 miles away from home in Simi Valley, Calif., with the California Titans 16U squad, so he’s got the routine down.

“When we’re on the bus while other guys are sleeping I’m going to be sitting there with a light on, doing my homework,” illustrated Harris. “When we’re in the hotel, I’ll be finding a quiet spot to study and do my reading.”

Harris is joined at Bismarck High by his fellow Bobcat and former Titan Nick Wallace, who made the training camp roster out of the team’s main camp in July.

Though Harris and Wallace are the only current high schoolers on the roster, their experience is hardly unique: current Bobcats Aaron Nelson, Ryan Callahan, Dan Kovar, Seth Blair and Chris Diver have all gone through the high-school-during-juniors experience. All but Blair (Corpus Christi) did so while on the Bobcat roster.

“Though it’s less common in the NAHL, we enjoy working with high school players,” expressed Bobcats assistant coach Garrett Roth, who oversees the team’s education initiatives and management. “The most satisfying thing is that we have guys come through our program that do very well (Callahan, for example, carried a 4.0 GPA at BHS) and give our team a good name in the schools here.”

For Harris, it’s about putting himself on the right path for what comes next.

“I am setting out to perform well both on the ice and in the classroom this season,” Harris asserted. “It’s all about preparing for the next level. When you get to college you have to be great in both aspects and being a Bobcat is going to have me ready for both.”

Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com over the next month-plus as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2013-14 season. This week we’ll also sit down with Mathias Ahman, Blake Busch, Ian Ecklund, Jeremy Norway and Will Pavek.