Aide off to NAHL’s Bismarck Bobcats
It’s been less than a week since it ended, but Bottineau-Rugby senior Harrison Aide has had time to reflect on his high school hockey career – statistically, the best in state history.
He most readily thinks back to being an eighth-grader and beating Mandan 4-3 in the West Region tournament to advance to the state tournament. Contributing 30 points as a junior high upstart sticks out. Big games against rival Minot, especially as a junior, come to mind next.
Aide won’t have much time to reminisce as his focus will quickly shift to junior hockey. Last fall, the Bottineau native signed a tender with the North American Hockey League’s Bismarck Bobcats, meaning that organization is the only junior program he can start with. He could be called upon to join the team any day. Bismarck led the Central Division as of Thursday and is one of just three squads in the 24-team league to clinch a playoff berth with 13 games left in the regular season.
“I’ll have to get a lot stronger,” Aide said. “Not so much skill, but more grinding it out and getting the pucks on net. I’m excited to get to the next level and see what I can do there.”
Before jumping to that, it’s worth taking another look at the stellar scholastic career. Aide finished fourth on the team in points with 30 (13 g, 17 a) as an eighth grader. Each year he moved up a place on the team’s list and repeated as the leader this season. His point totals by year include: freshman, 42 (23 g, 19 a); sophomore, 57 (20 g, 37 a); junior, 90 (34 g, 56 a); senior, 92 (52 g, 40 a).
He benefited from playing with other all-state players, including Logan Millican (Williston State College), Cody Longie (Fargo Force), Seth Serhienko (Iowa State) and current B-R junior Luke Amsbaugh. He also knew his role and thrived as much as a facilitator as he did a scorer.
“He obviously has skills,” B-R coach David Hoff said. “He possesses the puck really well. He’ll play with players no matter where he ends up, whether it’s the NAHL or the USHL. He’s gonna play with players that are of an equal skill set with him, so I think that’s gonna be good for him. There’s gonna be some learning that goes along with it, but when he possesses the puck he’s not at the high school level. I think he’ll do just fine, I really do.”
Hoff’s assessment of Aide playing above his level in recent seasons goes beyond the numbers. Aide drew attention from multiple players throughout his senior campaign and his skill with the puck may be on showcase more when he doesn’t have to be the go-to guy.
“He’s seen so much attention and probably some that he hadn’t really seen before,” Hoff said. “So I thought just for him, as an individual, it was good for him to learn to, ‘How do you deal with that?’ “
The NAHL is a tier below the USHL, which is the top junior amatuer league in the U.S. Aide is hoping to get drafted by a USHL team this spring, but is eager to see how he can contribute to the Bobcats.
“It’s a pretty good program for the NAHL, as far as tradition, and they seem to move players to the next level,” he said.
The NAHL playoffs end in May, but Aide still expects to defend his Class B title in the pole vault, even if called by the Bobcats. He set his personal best and a Class B state-meet record last year with a mark of 15 feet. His sister Kelsey owns the overall girls record at 12 feet, four inches. Harrison hopes to top his father Mark’s best vault of 15-4, set in 1972 and still Bismarck High’s record.
Aide hopes to have a successful stint at the junior level and receive scholarship offers to play collegiately. A dream scenario is playing for the University of North Dakota. For now, he’s focused on making a difference in the NAHL.
“I’m anxious to see what my role is and see how I match up against a lot bigger guys that can play hockey,” Aide said.
Aide has played against Bobcats including Tony German (Bismarck), Ryan Callahan (Grafton) and Aaron Nelson (Century).