Shepard Commits to Division I Minnesota-Duluth
DULUTH, MN – As the Bismarck Bobcats prepare to continue the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs, second-year goalie Hunter Shepard announced Thursday that he has committed to play Division I hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“It’s been my goal since starting junior hockey [in 2014] to play Division I hockey, so it is a huge honor to say that I’m committed, now,” asserted Shepard, who established himself as the Bobcats top starter in net for the 2015-16 campaign. “I want to thank Coaches Sedevie, Roth and Peluso, along with the Bobcat staff and my teammates, friends and family who supported me in this journey.”
Shepard steadied the Bobcats in net all year long, compiling a 34-11-3 record with a 1.90 GAA and a .926 SV%. He ranked first in the NAHL in wins, second in goals against average and fourth in save percentage in 2015-16; the 34 victories are a franchise single-season record.
He also participated in February’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Plymouth, Mich., where he did not factor into either Team Central decision but posted a 1.99 GAA and a .938 SV%.
The NAHL’s all-star summit was a jumping-off point for Shepard and the Bulldogs, though recent developments drove him even further toward UM-D.
“I first talked to Duluth at Top Prospects, but things got more serious when [former NAHL’er Kasimir] Kaskisuo signed an NHL contract with Toronto after the season,” recounted Shepard. “With ‘Kaz’ leaving, that meant that I could come in and have a chance to compete for playing time right away with one of the best programs in the country.”
Hailing from Cohasset, Minn., Shepard grew up 90 miles northwest of the Minnesota-Duluth campus.
The Bulldogs play in the prestigious National Collegiate Hockey Conference and have appeared in each of the last two NCAA National Tournaments—finishing ranked ninth in 2015-16—under head coach Scott Sandelin, who will preside over his 11th season in the Twin Ports in 2016-17.
Shepard’s commit now means that goalies from the Bobcats’ last 11 teams have committed to play Division I hockey: Tim Krystosek (2005-06, 2006-07, Air Force); Jake Kremer (2007-08, Minnesota); Matt Grogan (2007-08, 2008-09, UConn); David Bosner (2008-09, Air Force); Ryan Faragher (2009-10, 2010-11, St. Cloud State); Ryan Massa (2009-10, Nebraska-Omaha); Jake Williams (2009-10, Mercyhurst); Tommy Burke (2010-11, 2011-12, Bowling Green); Aaron Nelson (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, Minnesota State); and Shepard (2014-15, 2015-16, Minnesota-Duluth).
He is also the fifth current or former Bobcat to be pledged to a D-I program in 2015-16, joining Joe Tyran (Air Force), Jared Pike (American International), Jared Spooner (Minnesota State) and Tanner Salsberry (Bentley).
On the ice, Shepard and the Bobcats travel to Brookings Friday to take on the fourth-seeded Blizzard at 7:30pm in Game Three of the best-of-five Central Division Finals—a series the Cats lead two games to none.
Friday’s road playoff contest will be broadcast live locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-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 7:00pm.
Tickets are now on sale for the Cats’ run in the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs and are already going fast! Lock in yours for the entire playoff run by signing up for 2016-17 season tickets today.