BISMARCK, N.D.–The Bismarck Bobcats returned an important player to their lineup in Jake McLean last Thursday.
McLean, the Bobcats’ top scorer from last season, rejoined the team after playing 20 games with Waterloo in the USHL. The 20-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C. recorded three goals and nine points for the Black Hawks.
“(The USHL) is a fast league,” McLean said. “It is a good league. I was pretty happy with what I did when I was there, too … (I am) coming back with some confidence, it is a familiar place here.”
McLean paced the Bobcats with 56 points in 60 games last season while also earning a Division I hockey commitment to Bemidji State University. His 39 assists were among the league leaders. Head coach Layne Sedevie believes with McLean coming back, the Bobcats get a top-flight player every championship-contending team has to have.
“We need somebody to score,” Sedevie said. “(McLean) is a pass-first guy. Do I wish he shot the puck more? Sure, but somebody on his line is going to have to score goals because he is going to find them. That is just his hockey IQ … I would be licking my chops to play on his line.”
McLean drove ten hours from Iowa to Bismarck overnight on Wednesday into Thursday morning, arriving at the VFW Sports Center just in time for morning skate with a game in Minot that night. Despite being understandably tired all weekend, McLean suited up for the Bobcats and recorded two assists in three games.
“I think I had two hours of sleep before (Thursday’s game),” McLean said. “I definitely feel a lot better going into this weekend. I got my feet under me, got to have some practices with the guys … It was a whirlwind of a weekend.”
On an individual level, McLean already has his college commitment out of the way for next year. He hopes to use the experience of last season’s playoff push to help the team reach the promised land.
“I am not trying to do too much or change anything,” McLean said. “I am just going to try to do my part. It is a team game … last year, we had everybody going at the right time.”
Last season, the Bobcats finished with 20 wins in their last 30 games, clinching a playoff spot on the final day. McLean was exactly a point-per-game over his last 32 contests.
The Bobcats begin the 2023 portion of the schedule with back-to-back weekends against the North Iowa Bulls. Bismarck hosts North Iowa on Friday, January 13 and Saturday, January 14 at the VFW Sports Center. Tickets for all games are on sale now at tickets.bismarckbobcats.com.