There's a lot going on this week for Bismarck Bobcat coaches Layne Sedevie and Garrett Roth. The NAHL Showcase brings with it four games in four busy days -- coaching, evaluation and hockey games to be won.
With 24 teams playing 48 games beginning today, the Showcase definitely lives up to its name. But in addition, each game at the Schwan Super Rink is a league contest, carrying with it two points.
"We want to get as many points as we possibly can. That's obviously our goal this week," said Sedevie, the Bobcats head coach and general manager.
Sedevie, who is beginning his seventh season behind the Bobcats bench, said the Showcase has not been a productive event for the Bobcats over the years.
"I don't know, for some reason we haven't really done the best here," he said of the Showcase, now in its 14th season in the Twin Cities.
Indeed, the Bobcats went 0-4 at the Showcase last fall, scoring only seven goals. Sedevie said it's been at least three years since the Bobcats broke even in the Showcase.
With the schedule that Bismarck faces this week, the event isn't going to be a walk in the park this year, either.
The Bobcats take on Lone Star of Richland Hills, Texas at 5:15 p.m. today. On Thursday, Bismarck plays Aston, Pa., at 11:15 a.m. The Bobcats play Wichita Falls, Texas, at 4:15 p.m. Friday, and meet the Magicians of Richfield, Minn., at 6 p.m. Saturday. Bismarck, Aston and Wichita Falls all reached the final four in the Robertson Cup playoffs last spring. Wichita Falls lost to Fairbanks, Alaska, in the championship game.
"We do have one of the tougher schedules. ... I think all four teams are going to be tough," Sedevie said.
"It won't be easy, that's for sure," he continued. "You want to play good teams and you want to get better every night. We've got good opponents and we'll need to have a good 60-minute effort each night."
A challenging week is in the cards, for sure. But Sedevie said that isn't necessarily a negative thing.
"We're going to face adversity when we play good teams, and adversity is good for a young hockey team. ... We need to try to get better every time we step on the ice," he observed.
Sedevie is not exaggerating in characterizing the Bobcats as young. Forwards Tobias Fladeby, Jared Resseguie, Nick Alexander and Parker Mismash and defensemen Jordan Fralich and Pieter von Steinbergs are all that remain of last year's Central Division championship team.
Sedevie engineered some off-season deals in an effort to supply some veteran talent to the roster. He picked up forwards Zach Kennedy, Austin Junger and Joey Sardina, defenseman Nick McKeeby and goalie Will Ulrich from other NAHL teams.
"It's always an area of concern when you don't have a lot of veteran players. ... You want a good veteran group to mix with the young players coming in," Sedevie said.
He hopes the new acquisitions are a step in that direction.
"We got some good character pieces," he noted.
While six NAHL teams are opening their season at the Showcase, the Bobcats have a 7-2 victory over Aberdeen behind them. Sedevie said he doesn't want the opening night win create any false illusions.
"I don't think you can read a ton into it," he said. "Obviously it was a great start for us. If you put up seven goals you usually get your two points. ... There were some areas of concern. You don't expect to be now where you'll be at game 40 or game 50."
Sedevie said some of the Bobcats will be playing for their place on the team this week.
"We're still allowed to have 25 guys on the roster, but we have to get down to 23, so it's a big week for a lot of guys who are trying to make our final roster," he observed.