Wisconsin native Evan Hunter leads the Bismarck Bobcats in points, commits to Bemidji State
The 18-year-old forward currently leads his team in the NAHL in points after coming down from playing in the USHL last season.
BISMARCK — Playing junior hockey is a tough task for any young hockey player, no matter what league you're a part of.
Appleton, Wisconsin, native Evan Hunter was originally drafted by the Chicago Steel of the USHL when he was only 15. The Steel then released his rights for that season, and redrafted him the next year.
The 5-foot-9 forward joined the hockey club for the 2021-22 season and appeared in 27 games, but started to look for opportunities elsewhere when playing minutes became hard to come by due to an ultra-competitive roster for the Steel.
"I knew that's how it was going to be going in there (to Chicago), so I don't really have any complaints, but it was tough and you have to get used to it," said Hunter on his experience playing in the USHL.
The Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL saw potential in the Wisconsin native and saw a chance for him to be a top player for their squad, so they drafted him in the second round of the 2022 NAHL Draft.
Playing more minutes was something that Hunter wanted to be able to do in junior hockey so that he could get his hockey resume in front of as many Division I programs as possible.
Moving to the NAHL ended up being a great move for the forward, as he currently leads the Bobcats in points, with a total of 15 in 14 games played.
NCAA programs then started to notice Hunter after his hot start in the NAHL.
"Just talking to schools and seeing what different places have to offer is really cool," said the Appleton native on the recruiting process.
Then on Oct. 25, Hunter announced his commitment to play Division I hockey for Bemidji State.
"I went on a visit to Bemidji and got to see their rink and their facilities and they were really cool and I felt like it would be a good fit for me," the 18-year-old said.
Standing at 5-foot-9 and weighing in at around 166 pounds, Hunter is a quick, sneaky player out on the ice who can put up quite a few points for his team.
"I'm a smart player, my hockey IQ is good. I'm pretty shifty. I like to set other guys up and I can be a pass first guy," Hunter said on his playing style.
The forward currently is scoring at over a point-per-game pace in the NAHL with Bismarck. The Bobcats are currently at the bottom of the Central Division, but are within only a handful of points of the next few teams above them in the standings.
"We had a couple of tough weekends where we could've came out with some wins. We're still figuring some things out but I think once everything starts to click we're gonna be one of the best teams out there."
Hunter grew up in Appleton and was inspired by his mother's side of the family to get into the sport of hockey. He had multiple cousins who played the sport along with his two older brothers.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Hunter and his family watched teams like the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL and he remembers seeing the local Appleton United team win the state tournament.
Hunter's older brothers played for the Fox Cities Stars, while he took a different route and played youth hockey with the Green Bay Jr. Gamblers AAA squad.
The 18-year-old plays hockey most of the time, but is also a pretty good ping pong player after competing with his brother almost every day in their free time when they were younger.