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 first-round draft pick Kevin Becker.
Name: Kevin Becker
Hometown: Roseville, MN
2011-12 Team: Aberdeen Wings
2011-12 Stats: 55 GP, 8 G, 20 A, 20 PIM
Favorite Pro Sports Team: Minnesota Wild
Favorite NHL Player: Zach Parise
Highlight of 2011-12: “Playing in the playoffs and just the increased level of play and the way the fans in Aberdeen and Bismarck made it a great atmosphere”
Kevin Becker’s journey to the Bismarck Bobcats’ 2012 30-man protected list is one of the more unusual offseason tales in the 15-year history of Bobcat Hockey.
Following a successful rookie campaign with the archrival Aberdeen Wings, Becker weighed the option of enrolling in college for the 2012-13 school year.
“I was thinking about going to school, and I found out that the Wings didn’t protect me,” recalled Becker, who was coached in 2011-12 by then-Wings assistant Garrett Roth—now with the Cats, “so I gave Coach Roth a call right away and talked to him about my options and maybe playing for the Bobcats.”
With Becker’s call coming mere days before the Draft, the Bobcats’ draft plans needed to be re-worked because the team’s staff had been impressed with the Roseville native’s play as a rookie in Aberdeen.
“By the end of the season, I thought Becker was easily a top-line guy on Aberdeen with [Cory] Ward and [Steve] Obarzanek,” expressed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, “so we knew we would get a player we knew well if we were able to draft him. Knowing a player and how he performs at the junior level is a luxury you don’t have very often on draft day.”
When the Bobcats’ #24 pick in the first round came up, Sedevie and Roth took virtually no time to submit Becker as their top selection.
“Seeing that the Bobcats drafted me, I was pretty pumped up. Knowing the history of the franchise and how intense the fans are, it’s a great place to play.”
Newfound Veteran Savvy
Coming from Roseville High School in Minnesota, 2011-12 was Becker’s first year in the NAHL. Like many first-year players, Becker had a bit of culture shock early on.
“The level of play is really fast, and guys are a lot bigger out there,” said Becker, “and there are so many great players in the Central Division that it was a pretty big adjustment to make.”
To his credit, Becker made that adjustment well, becoming a power play regular for the Wings throughout the season, even chipping in two points on the power play in the playoffs for Aberdeen.
The power play was a showcase for his puck-handling skills, as he was placed at the point on the Wings’ man advantage unit, where he served as the field general for Aberdeen’s special teams.
“We had a lot of faith in Kevin’s abilities and he did a great job as a power play guy all year long,” credited Roth, who was a pretty good forward himself at the junior level: 10 years later, Roth still stands as the Cats’ all-time leading scorer with 156 points. “Bobcats fans probably already know him from last year, but they’ll love his playmaking ability now that he’s not setting up goals against anymore.”
In 55 regular season games, Becker had three goals and six assists on the power play in 2011-12.
Becker got his first taste of what it’s like to be on “the other side” of the Titan Machinery Dakota Cup when he arrived for Bobcats Main Camp in late July.
“I knew the Bobcats had some great fans after playing in a year of Dakota Cup games,” stated Becker, “but I was still pretty surprised to look up for three straight days and see the stands full of fans for Main Camp in a freezing cold rink.
“That was pretty cool.”
In four games at Main camp, Becker provided a goal and four assists while playing on a line with top returning scorer Adam Knochenmus and fellow draft pick Joe Giordano.
Like his fellow 2012-13 Bobcats, Becker is excited at the prospects for the upcoming season after what he saw at Main Camp.
“There’s a lot of strong players, no doubt,” he noted. “There were a lot of guys that I’d played with and against in Minnesota high school and then last year in the Central Division, but I was pretty impressed with a lot of the rookies that the coaches brought in.
“It’s pretty exciting to think about what this team can do with the depth and talent that was there at Main Camp.”
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.