Apparently in the world of junior hockey, stability is a relative term.

 Although the Bismarck Bobcats had just three players age out from their final roster last season, there's been a good deal of off-season coming and going. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

 With the biggest off-season step still ahead, Bobcats general manager and coach Layne Sedevie says the team isn't in a bad spot as the main camp beckons in late July.

 "You like to feel you're in a good spot every year when you put in the (off-season) work to be in that situation," Sedevie said. "... We do like our list (of players).

"It's the two-year cycle of junior hockey -- from last year, when we didn't have hardly any returnees, to now, when we have a lot of returnees. So, obviously, our expectations are a lot different."

 The Bobcats finished 28-30-2 last season and missed the NAHL playoffs for the first time in Sedevie's seven years behind the bench.

 Since then, the deck has been shuffled. Two of Sedevie's goaltenders who had eligibility remaining have departed. Camden Haugenoe left to play Division III hockey at Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Severi Isokangas returned home to Finland.

 Defenseman Chase Hartje, who played nine games with the Bobcats after his junior year at Bemidji, Minn., High School, has signed with Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in the Western Hockey League.

 Four players on the Bobcats roster were drafted in last month's United States Hockey League draft. Grant Johnson was selected by Fargo, Matt Barry was chosen by Youngstown, Ohio, Tristan Ashbrook was picked by Lincoln, Neb., and Chicago took Alex Pollock. All are forwards.

 The Bobcats retain the USHL rights to all four, pending on what happens in the USHL.

 This week the Bobcats restocked via a trade and six selections in the USHL draft.

 On Monday, Sedevie picked up a pair of forwards -- Tanner Tweten and Tommy Altounian -- who played last season with the Minnesota Magicians. 

 "Tweten we kind of tried to tender out of high school at East Grand Forks (Minn.). ... We've been after him all along. He had 14 goals and 19 assists in the league last year in pretty much his rookie year. He's a big guy who can skate and shoot," Sedevie said.

 "Altounian is kind of the same mix," Sedevie added. "He played a little over half the games and had decent points (4 goals, 8 assists). He's a kid our scout really liked. We wanted them to fit in with the core group we have coming back, which is a good group."

 The Bobcats were able to swap three draft picks to the Northeast Generals to garner the No. 1 overall pick in the NAHL draft. With the first pick, Sedevie took 20-year-old Eric Otto, who played last season with Des Moines of the USHL.

 "He's going back to Des Moines, and whatever happens from there, we'll see," Sedevie said. "We have his (NAHL) rights."

 The Bobcats chose 18-year-old Adam Stacho, a forward from Team Slovakia in the second round. In the fourth round they tabbed 18-year-old goalie Jaxson Stauber of Wyzata, Minn., and 18-year-old forward Pavel Kharin, who played last season in the 18-and-under High Performance Hockey League. Bismarck drafted Jake Olson, an 18-year-forward from Eden Prairie, Minn., in the sixth round, In the sixth round the Cats claimed the rights to Aiden Gallacher, a 17-year-old defenseman who played last season with the Oakland Junior Grizzlies 16-under team.

 Olson, Gallacher and Kharin caught the Bobcats' attention at team pre-draft camps in the Twin Cities and Detroit.

 Stauber and 18-year-old Shane Brancato, a tendered player who played one game with the Bobcats last season, are the two Bismarck goalies at this point.

 The Bobcats currently have the NAHL limit of 30 protected players. That nucleus will more than double in size for the main camp, scheduled July 21-23 at the VFW Sports Center. 

 Sedevie said the 30 protected players plus 50 or more invitees will converge on Bismarck for the the main camp, in which the players will be divided into teams and play a series of games.

 There's a lot riding on the main camp, especially for the invitees.

 "That's where we pick our team, and we'll be trying to address any areas of immediate concern at that time, as well," Sedevie said.

 It's not unheard of for an invitee to move onto the Bobcats roster, based on performance in the main camp.

 "They've done it before. Cole Souto and Filip Starzynski are two prime examples of guys coming to our main camp and making our hockey team," Sedevie recalled. "And there are others."


Sports Reporter