Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
For two of the Lloydminster Bobcats, the end of the season didn’t necessarily signal the packing of bags and moving back home for five months.
Both Kolten Anderson and Linden Springer had the luxury of playing in their hometown this season, and while it may not have been a memorable season on the ice in terms of results, it’s one both will never forget.
“To me this is my funnest year playing hockey,” said Springer, a defenceman who spent the year prior playing with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. “It wasn’t the best success wise, but playing in front of fans, hometown fans especially, it was a lot of fun.
“To be playing in front of friends and family is just something you can’t describe, and to be doing it with the guys we have on our team this year is just unexplainable.”
Springer was a late, but welcome, addition to the Bobcats after he was cut from the Cougars last August. And though he would play in three games for the WHL franchise, he spent the majority of the year in Lloydminster, where he scored five goals and added eight assists in 44 games.
That production was just a notch better than what he was capable of the year before in Prince George, where he scored three times and added three assists in 56 games.
Next year, with another year of junior A experience under his belt and the added advantage of being familiar with the league, Springer could perhaps become more of an offensive force for the Bobcats.
But the smooth-skating blueliner isn’t worried about roles for next season, at least not yet.
“It depends on when you get into the training camp what’s here, it’s all about what the coach wants, and whatever he wants me to do I’m good with,” he said when the Bobcats cleared out their lockers weeks ago, prior to Garry VanHereweghe taking over as the team’s new bench boss.
One thing VanHereweghe might want Springer to do is to stay out of the box. The defenceman finished third in the league in penalty minutes with 201, but played in significantly less games than the two players ahead of him.
That grit and tenacity is as much a part of Springer’s game as anything, but he knows in order to be effective it’s something that he’ll need to keep a close eye on next season.
“That’s always something you want to cut down, you hate being in the box, especially when they’re scoring on that penalty, it’s a pretty bad feeling, but that’s the thing, I play on the line and lots of times I more than straddle the line obviously,” he explained.
Anderson, who like Springer is a Lloydminster Minor Hockey Association graduate, said that this past season was an unforgettable experience.
“It’s great, you see people you know come and watch you all the time, people talk about it and you go out in the community and people talk to you about it, it’s cool,” he explained.
Despite putting up just 10 points in 51 games, Anderson carved out a role on the penalty kill this past season. Next year, along with returning forward Eric Therrien, he should lead a strong penalty-kill unit.
A little more offensive production, however, would be welcomed out of a third-line winger, and Anderson will do his best to remedy that over the summer.
“I’ve kind of got some stone hands going on, so I’m going to try and work on my dangles, I guess,” he said with a laugh.
Anderson and Springer were the only two locals on the Bobcats this season. Since being hired, however, general manager and head coach Garry VanHereweghe has continued to put emphasis on getting younger and making sure top local Junior A players stay in Lloydminster.