Austin Jouppi skated to a stellar first season with the Bismarck Bobcats.
The Duluth, Minn., native netted 14 goals and tallied 27 assists in his debut NAHL season, and in the process turned a lot of heads.
On Tuesday, the 5-foot-8 forward was one of 24 players selected to Team NAHL, which will be competing in the 2019 Sirius Junior World Cup. The tournament will be played in Sochi, Russia, Aug. 23-31.
"To be one of only 24 guys picked from our league obviously says a lot about the season he had. It's very well deserved," Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie said. "The two things that are the ultimate dream for any hockey player are winning the Stanley Cup and representing your country. It's a special achievement."
Jouppi's 41 points came in just 53 games for the Bobcats, who had the eighth-most points (73) in the 24-team NAHL last season.
"He made a big impact as a rookie and we're excited to see what he can do for us this season," Sedevie said of Jouppi. "Going to Russia and playing in that environment certainly will be a very positive thing for his development."
Busy weekend for Bobcats
Capital Ice Complex will be buzzing this weekend.
The Bobcats final tryout camp, also known as Main Camp, will attract upwards of 115 players looking to catch an eye of team-builders like Sedevie.
"It's exciting for Garrett (Roth) and myself," Sedevie said. "To me, it's the best time of the year where you're trying to build the best hockey team possible.
"There are always surprises that pop up."
The Bobcats return a strong core for the 2019-20 season. With more than 30 players on their protected list, and 11 players signed to tenders as of last month, competition for roster spots will be highly competitive. The new season starts Sept. 18 at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn. The Bobcats' home opener is Sept. 27 against the Minnesota Wilderness.
Even with much of last year's talented team remaining intact, there's never truly an end to evaluating. Sedevie spent 17 days on the road last month trying to unearth more gems.
"At the end of the day it's my job to build the best hockey team we can," he said. "We want to see our veteran players come in this week and prove themselves in terms of how they play and from a leadership standpoint.
"But there are also a lot of kids coming in that want to prove they can play at this level. That's the exciting part, every year you have kids that will come in and make the team."