BISMARCK, N.D. - The Bismarck Bobcats are in the thick of things in the Central Division and a big reason for that is the return of forward Austin Jouppi.
Growing up in Duluth Minnesota most people take to winter sports Bismarck Bobcats Forward Austin Jouppi was no different.
"Gosh, I think I was on the ice by age two or three and probably playing by four or five. My dad kind of got me into it and I just always loved going out and working on things on the outdoor ice and that is what I grew up on so it was always fun to go out and skate," said Bobcats Forward Austin Jouppi.
As Jouppi continued to skate, he continued to improve leading to a a spot on the Bobcats roster.
"Oh yeah, it has been really good I am loving it out here and it is always fun to come back and do what you love every day with out having to worry about anything else. I think with all the guys I knew we were going to have a good team with the returning group and I really liked the coaching staff they have done a lot of really good things for me," said Jouppi.
But Jouppi's time in Bismarck hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows.
"You know we offered him a tender, and the rest is kind of history. He struggled a little last year for us at the start of the year and he was in and out of the line up and he worked hard for us behind the scenes of things that people don't see. He was the first guy out on the ice doing extra work because he wanted back in the line up. Once he got back in you can look at the numbers he had an unbelievable rookie campaign for us and I think he has picked up right where he left off," said Bobcats Head Coach Layne Sedevie.
Jouppi's improved numbers have lead to a shot at the division one level as he will attend Bemidji State next season to play on the Beavers hockey team.
"The coaches reached out to me last year, and I like the location, and it is always a really cool opportunity to play in state where you are from," said Jouppi.
But before Jouppi heads back to the state of hockey he has a one or two more things he wants to do in the capital city.
"Goal for me, for the rest of the season is to keep coming to work every day and to not burn out, because I want to be here and I want to have fun. So, I just want to keep a positive attitude so hopefully we can make it to the playoffs and go far," said Jouppi.
Austin also got the chance to represent the N.A.H.L. in an international competition in Russia prior to the state season.
He and the Bobcats will continue their playoff quest Friday night playing host to Aberdeen.