Born in Bismarck in 1997, the Bismarck Bobcats are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League’s Central Division. The Bobcats are second oldest franchise in the league and Team Owner and CEO Thom Brigl is the longest tenured owner. Brigl touts the Bobcats’ mission as three-fold. First, to provide young men ages 16 to 20 the opportunity to play NCAA hockey; secondly, to be mentors for all youth, not just hockey players, in Western North Dakota; lastly, to provide great entertainment. Brigl mentions, “We rely entirely on earning the support of our community and its businesses to allow us to do what we do in Bismarck-Mandan.”
Over the Bobcats’ 20 year history, Dakota Community Bank & Trust’s (DCB&T) two decade long sponsorship continues to grow over time. More recently, DCB&T became a sponsor for the team’s annual Brave the Shave Fundraiser Game Night, which has raised over $70,000 for childhood cancer since its start in 2008. “It is a super night with jersey auctions, fun, and games for North Dakota children who are battling cancer, and just a warm and emotional atmosphere with all the kids present,” says Brigl. He goes on to say, “Right after Dale (Pahlke) dropped the ceremonial puck, circled by cancer fighting children and their siblings, Dale leaned over and said ‘Thom I am really touched to be a part of what you guys are doing here and I would like to contribute another $1,000 to these North Dakota kids.’ He did so that very night.” Brigl not only feels how indicative that story is of Dale in particular, but also the spirit and heart of DCB&T as a whole.
“We feel very fortunate to be part of the fabric of Bismarck-Mandan and to partner with a great team like that of Dakota Community Bank & Trust because it is apparent every day that ‘community’ in Dakota Community Bank & Trust reflects who they are, who they serve and what they believe in,” closes Brigl.
Like DCB&T, every season the Bobcat hockey team makes it a point to be an active part of the Bismarck community, and this season is no different. In and around Bismarck, you can always find the Bobcats doing their part to make the local community a great place for everyone. Along with Brave the Shave, the Bobcats have also visited schools in 18 North Dakota cities promoting its “Be Kind” Bullying Hurts Program. The team will be in Bismarck-Mandan schools during the second half of their season with the same program. They, like DCB&T, are all about the community and stay busy with the Bismarck Marathon, Santa Run, American Heart Association, evening read-alongs at the Bismarck Public Library, The Salvation Army, and more.
Throughout their history, the Bobcats have won several cups, national championships, and titles along with setting franchise records. Not only have their players been instrumental in their success as a team, but the Bobcats are proud of their coaching staff as well. In their tenure, the Bobcats have had five head coaches including Byron Pool from 2007-2010 who was named NAHL Coach of the Year in 2009. They have placed over 250 young men in NCAA hockey, 51 of them from North Dakota. You can follow them on Facebook at Bismarck Bobcats Hockey or on their web page at https://www.bismarckbobcats.com/.
Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director