BISMARCK, N.D. — Roughly 70 North Dakotans have called themselves Bobcats over the team’s quarter-century of existence.
One of the best young talents in the state could soon add himself to that list.
The Bobcats are pleased to announce Jackson Ekblad (Williston, N.D./Williston High School) has signed a tender as of November 1, the first possible date for 2022-23 signees. If Ekblad, a senior in high school, opts to play in the North American Hockey League next season, he would come to Bismarck.
“It is hard to believe,” Ekblad said. “Growing up, I knew who the Bobcats were. They had a couple of hometown kids.”
The Bobcats gave themselves a head start on the 6-foot-4 defenseman, who spent many childhood nights watching Williston State hockey games. Head coach Layne Sedevie informed Ekblad over the summer of an exhibition game in Watford City. He accepted, and on September 11 at the Rough Rider Center, Ekblad made his Cats ‘debut.’
“Before the game and whenever we were in the locker room, being with the boys,” Ekblad recalled. “I was kind of giddy because I am a little 17-year-old getting to play with a bunch of older kids.”
The opportunity presented Ekblad a reunion of sorts with a Minot’s Charlie Larsen and Valley City’s Alex Senf.
“(Ekblad) can do it all,” head scout Niko Kapetanovic said. “From running a power play, blocking shots on a penalty kill, and using his stick and mobility to defend and find lanes for breakout passes. We are excited to add a player with his ability to our roster next year, and hit a home run with a hometown North Dakota kid.”
The Bobcats planted the seed in the preseason, and when tender season opened up, it was a no-brainer for both parties.
“When they offered, I knew that was where I wanted to play.”