What's Good for the Goose

Know Your Bobcat – Evan Giesler

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 second-year forward Evan Giesler.

Name: Evan Giesler

Position: Forward

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 190 lbs.

2012-13 Team: Bismarck Bobcats

2012-13 Stats: 35 GP, 7 G, 10 A, 17 PTS, +13, 12 PIM, 3 PPG, 2 GWG

Favorite Movie: Miracle

Favorite TV Show: Arrested Development

Highlight of 2012-13: “Riding that big hot streak from the beginning of March all the way to a Central Division title and the national tournament.”

Mirror Images

Through the first 22 games of the 2012-13 season, the Bismarck Bobcats were hardly where they wanted to be: struggling back to the .500 mark at 10-10-2 after spending the first two-plus months of the season with a losing record.

From there, though, the Bobcats turned a home-and-home sweep of the Brookings Blizzard after Thanksgiving into a 9-2-0 run to close 2012 that permanently righted the ship en route to a 35-16-9 record for the regular season.

Bobcat forward Evan Giesler’s season eerily paralleled that of his squad: through his first 23 games, the rookie winger totaled just six assists.

“I didn’t start out the season very well, and I can say that I wasn’t happy with how I played,” admitted Giesler, a third-round draft pick in 2012 for the Cats. “But I never gave up; I stuck with the program and took the coaches’ advice to get grittier and get into those tough areas on the ice over time to improve my game.”

Though Giesler’s 24th game played was Game 49 on the Bobcat schedule, the Illinois native emphatically turned his season around, coincidentally enough, against Brookings: tallying his first career goal on a redirect from the slot and adding two assists in a 5-1 win over the Blizzard.

From there, he would go on to pour in six more goals and an assist in the final 10 games of the regular season before having a point-per-game average in the playoffs.

“One thing we knew Evan needed was confidence,” stated Bobcats assistant coach Garrett Roth, who scouted Giesler during his time with the Chicago Fury. “He was so close for a long time but couldn’t quite finish. Nobody was surprised that he busted the dam open when he got that first goal.

“We were all excited for him when he started producing, because his hard work and defense were there all along and he deserved to be rewarded for that.”

In those first 23 contests, Giesler was an impressive +10.

After the season, Giesler was voted “Most Improved Player” by his teammates.

Never Say Die

One of Evan Giesler’s signature games in 2012-13 was also one of the most important over the course of the regular season: a March 2 road game at Brookings.

The Cats came into the away contest just three points ahead of the Blizzard for second place and home ice advantage in the Central Division chase. Before 15 minutes had even passed in the contest, the Bobcats were staring down a 3-0 deficit to the home side.

With the power play mired in a season-long slump, Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie had reshuffled the power play, giving Giesler his first minutes on the ‘PP’ all season.

That switch was key as his unit, which also featured Nate Repensky, Matt Pohlkamp, Seth Blair and Filip Starzynski rattled off four straight goals—with Giesler notching the game-tying goal—as part of a six-goal tear. Giesler added the final goal of the night, as well, for a 6-3 Bobcat victory.

“We just kept chipping away,” recalled the Chicagoland native. “You hear it all the time, but we really took it one goal at a time; nobody could score a three-point goal, so we just kept digging and one goal turned into two, two turned into three, four, five, six.”

Three weeks later, on a night they could clinch home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Cats found themselves with another 3-0 road deficit. This time, however, things were a bit more dire, as there were less than 10 minutes left against the Austin Bruins, who had the second-best record in the NAHL.

In a more compact timeline than they had in Brookings, the Cats rattled off four straight goals, including three goals on one major power play that spanned the end of regulation and overtime. Giesler was on the ice for three of the four tallies.

“When we were down 3-0 in the third, nobody panicked, nobody packed it in,” credited Giesler. “We all had the confidence from that game in Brookings to get out there and do what we had to in order to steal a point or two on the road.”

That confidence spilled over into the playoffs, where the Cats staged three come-from-behind wins, including two in a row over the Bruins to clinch the Central Division Finals.

Ever Evolving

Entering his second season in black and gold, Giesler knows that his role on the team is likely to transform as part of the natural progression of becoming a Bobcat veteran.

“Now that I’m coming into my second year and know a bit more what to expect, my role will be to produce more than I was expected to last season,” explained the second-year front-liner.

While his own stat aspirations may be on the rise for 2013-14, the nuts and bolts of his game will have a familiar look.

“I don’t see myself becoming Patrick Kane and stickhandling through everybody every time I’m on the ice,” conceded Giesler, referencing his hometown Chicago Blackhawks. “I still want to be a power forward. I’d rather be looked at like an Andrew Shaw: get to the gritty areas, work hard, be physical and put up points in big situations.”

The power forward concept is the main reason the Bobcats drafted him in May 2012.

“Evan is a big guy with a strong shot and a lot of potential,” remarked Roth, who also hails from Chicago. “Last season it took him a little while to find his game, but if he can carry over that work ethic, we expect to see more stat lines like we saw in March and April.”

With the 2013-14 season less than a month away, Giesler wants to spread the production more evenly across his sophomore campaign.

“My goal for this year is definitely consistency,” Giesler asserted. “I want to be more productive from day one and keep that at a higher level to help the team as much as possible.”

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 will also feature Chris Diver, Tyler Dunagan, Kenny Curtis and Huba Sekesi.