North Dakota German

Know Your Bobcat – Tony German

Throughout the months of August and September, will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features Bobcat rookie and Bismarck native Tony German.

Name: Tony German

Position: Defenseman

Hometown: Bismarck, ND

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 185 lbs.

2012-13 Team: Colorado Rampage U18

2012-13 Stats: 26 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 PTS, 12 PIM

Favorite Pro Sports Team: Montreal Canadiens

Favorite Actress: Megan Fox

Highlight of 2012-13: “Winning the State Championship against our rivals, the Colorado Thunderbirds. They liked to try and get under our skin every game, so the look on their faces when the final horn went was priceless.”

Welcome Home

After two-plus years away from home, playing for the Colorado Rampage midget program, defenseman Tony German is back in North Dakota to suit up for his hometown Bismarck Bobcats.

The defender made the move to the MWEHL after a standout sophomore season at Bismarck High that landed him all-state honors, alongside current Bobcat Ryan Callahan, former Cats Jeremy O’Keefe and Bryan Nies and 2013 Bobcat tender signee Alec Rauhauser.

All told, he racked up 20 points in 25 games for the Demons in 2010-11.

“I went to Colorado Springs prepare myself for the next level,” explained German. “I knew that I’d be going into playing 60 games instead of less than 30, and against a higher level of competition to really take that next step as a player.”

Despite the 770 miles that separate Bismarck and Colorado Springs, the former Demon was eager to make the trek south.

“A lot of guys can be a little nervous to move away from home for the first time, but I was up for it,” submitted the blueliner. “I knew I was headed to a program with a great staff in a league with a strong reputation, so I couldn’t wait to get started.”

Following a 2012-13 campaign that saw the Rampage win their fifth straight state title, German signed a tender agreement to join the Bobcats.

As pumped up as he was to transition onto the Rampage roster, German seems just as excited to return to his old stomping grounds to sport the black and gold.

“If you grow up in Bismarck in the hockey community, you grow up watching the Bobcats,” stated German, “so it was pretty great to get an offer to sign with them. The reputation they’ve built, not just in the region but in junior hockey as a whole as a successful program made it an easy decision.”

It didn’t hurt that he would be coming back to a rink he called home for so long.

“I love playing at the VFW Sports Center,” nodded German. “It’s not the biggest barn in the league but the crowd is so great and it gets really loud. Who wouldn’t love playing in such a great atmosphere?”

New Priorities

After averaging nearly a point per game with BHS, one could hardly blame Tony German for considering himself an offensive defenseman coming out of high school.

“I like playing offense. I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t like to score goals and get points,” joked German.

Yet after learning the ropes of a 60-game grind with the Rampage, his attitude toward the position of defenseman has changed dramatically.

“My first priority is defense. Our own end,” expressed German. “Protect the net, make a good first pass and if it creates the opportunity for offense, that’s a nice bonus.”

A defense-first mantra jibes with the identity of the Bobcats’ “D” corps, who were second in the NAHL in 2012-13 with a 2.33 team GAA.

“Our back end is built around hard work and a playing our best in our own end,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, “but we don’t want to try and limit the creativity of guys who want to contribute offensively. The biggest thing is that we want them to focus first on defense and then let that turn into offense.

“We’ve had some great success stories of guys who want to be offensive defensemen becoming great two-way guys: Sam Rendle led the league in points for ‘D’ during the Robertson Cup year and was +22; last year Nate Repensky was All-Rookie Defense, second in the league for rookie D-men in points per game but was also +26. It can definitely work both ways.”

That said, German maintains his focus on the defensive end: when given the choice between putting his name on the scoresheet or blocking a shot, the Bismarck native maintains a selfless attitude.

“I’d say blocking a shot is more important than getting a point,” he admitted. “If you see a shot, you have to get in front of it; it’s basic.”

But the offensive spark is still there.

“Now if that blocked shot turns into an odd-man rush and a chance to put up points, that’s kind of the best of both worlds.”

Bismarck Boys

A major advantage for German over the 2013 offseason  is that living in Bismarck, he has been able to train with other players on the Bobcats’ protected list that have been in town through the summer.

“I’ve been working out at Healthways with guys like Seth Blair, Tommy Malkmus, Aaron Nelson and Dan Kovar all summer and learning from [Bobcats fitness director] Mike Salwei,” detailed German. “It’s been great to ramp up to training camp with guys that I’m comfortable with and get into that team workout mentality.”

With “Hell Week” looming on Monday morning, German hopes to use his familiarity with the team workout program to his benefit, as well.

“I’m not going to say I’m looking forward to ‘Hell Week,’” offered German, “but I will say that I am pretty confident heading into it that I’ll be able to show the coaches my dedication to the program this week and maybe even win some of the events between now and Thursday.”

Even though ice time in Bismarck has been hit-or-miss since Main Camp, German has been working at the gym to fine-tune an area of his on-ice game that he targeted for improvement for 2013-14.

“I’ve been really working on my burst,” he revealed, “particularly my first three steps. My first three steps have been there, but sometimes you can get into the mindset where you think if something is good enough that you don’t need to work on it.

“But that’s not a way to operate if you want to play at the next level. You have to constantly be improving, not only for yourself but to be the best teammate to everyone else who’s busting their tail for that Robertson Cup.”

Stay tuned to 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. Next week we’ll sit down with Tanner Salsberry, Brendan Harris, Mathias Ahman, Blake Busch, Ian Ecklund, Jeremy Norway and Will Pavek.