NAHL's Bobcats, Minotauros play in Dickinson tonightThe North American Hockey League is a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The North American Hockey League is a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Dickinson hockey fans will see a glimpse of some the best young talent in the world as the Bismarck Bobcats play the Minot Minotauros in a Junior A, Tier II exhibition game at 7 p.m. today at the Dickinson Recreation Center.
“We’re very excited all the way from the hockey board to the coaches to the kids,” said Dave Hanneman, Dickinson Hockey club coordinator. “Just to have that caliber of a hockey game at our rink, it’s going to be a great night. It’s going to be best hockey that’s ever been played in Dickinson.”
The NAHL is a gateway for players to join some of the top Division I programs in the nation including University of North Dakota, Bemidji State, St. Cloud State, Western Michigan University and University of Nebraska-Omaha.
The Bobcats and the Minotauros are both in the Central Division of the NAHL. Bismarck has an overall record of 8-9 while Minot is 5-12.
Dickinson had an exhibition game between the Billings Bulls and the Minot State-Bottineau Lumberjacks in 2008. Hanneman said there will be no comparison between the two.
“The caliber of hockey compared to what we are going to see (on Tuesday) is much higher,” he said.
Bismarck was founded in 1997 as a part of the American West Hockey League, which eventually merged with the NAHL in 2003. The Bobcats last won the Robertson Cup — the league championship — in 2010.
Bobcats head coach is Layne Sedevie, a native of Bismarck and in his third season as head coach, was a goaltender for the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Stampede and the Topeka (Kan.) Scarecrows. He then went to play goaltender for Bemidji State for four years. He’s excited to bring the Bobcats to Dickinson.
“It’s something we’ve done a couple times in the past,” Sedevie said. “We’ve done it in Aberdeen (S.D.) and Minot. I was raised here in Bismarck and anytime that we can bring that product, especially to a town in North Dakota, it’s a big deal.”
Minot head coach Marty Murray played 261 games in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames. The Minotauros are in their second full season and Murray likes where his team is headed.
“There have been some ups and downs,” Murray said. “As of late, we’ve been playing pretty decent. There’s always room for improvement. We’re continuing to get better.”
With the two teams only 110 miles away from each other, a natural rivalry has already taken affect.
“Every time we play them, it’s a pretty physical game,” Sedevie said. “They are hard fought games. It’s a battle.”
“Even though it’s an exhibition game, neither team wants to go home with a loss,” Murray added.
Bismarck’s players to watch are Adam Knochenmus and Patrick Moore. Each has 20 points on the season. Shane Omdahl has 16 points with a team-high 11 goals.
Minot’s players to watch are Jake O’Borsky with 14 points and Travis Maxwell with 13 points. Tim Donohue has 11 points on a team-high six goals.
Is the NAHL exhibition game between the Bobcats and the Minotauros an insight to the future? Hannemann believes so.
“With the second sheet coming in, there is a possibility of Dickinson looking at adding a franchise,” Hannemann said. “They are looking for investor to possibly getting a team. I think we could swing it when that second sheet comes into the picture.”