Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
Players on the Lloydminster Bobcats are going to gain an appreciation for what their head coach, Ryan Parent, does on a daily basis.
In partnership with the Lloydminster Minor Hockey Association, each player on the Bobcats will take on a coaching role with a local novice or atom hockey team as part of the Adopt a Bobcat program.
“These Junior A players will be coming out on the ice, practices, home games, whatever they can to assist the coaches and kind of give back to the community a little bit at the minor hockey level, and I think it’s exciting for the kids,” said LMHA general manager Darrell Wagner.
In total, 20 different teams will welcome a Bobcats player on their bench throughout the year.
Lloydminster natives Kolten Anderson and Linden Springer were on hand Tuesday at the Civic Centre, along with Turtleford native Austin McDonald, as the organization officially announced the partnership.
“I think it’s a big thing to have junior hockey players work with younger guys,” said McDonald. “Because I know we’re pretty big role models to them, and I think it really helps to get out on the ice with them and help them out.”
Players will assume their roles on the bench next week, following this weekend’s pair of home games against Grande Prairie.
Springer, who grew up in the LMHA system, recalled how excited he was as a kid when Lloydminster Blazer Junior A players would come to his practices.
“I still remember to this day when they came out to practice with us, you’d always try to skate as fast as they could or shoot as hard as they could, it was just nice to have a role model like that and someone to look up to,” said the first-year defenceman.
The Bobcats have had a strong partnership with LMHA for quite some time now, and Wagner is thrilled to add to that partnership by bringing a Bobcat behind the bench on 20 of the association’s teams.
“I go back a few years ago when we had the Olympic torch relay in Lloyd and I watched our minor hockey children just flock to the junior A players when they showed up,” said Wagner, adding that it is going to be a thrill for the kids.
Neither Springer, Anderson or McDonald could think of who will make the best coach on the team, with Springer only answering “Not us,” with a laugh.
“I think the leaders on the team will be good coaches,” Springer went on to add. “They help coach us and if they can coach us I think they can coach anyone,” he added.
And while the emphasis is heavily on the kids, the chance to go back to where it all started is more than welcomed by the Bobcats.
“I think it’s refreshing to kind of get away from it because when you play this hockey a lot it’s more like a job, and when you go down there you realize how fun it is and how fun it used to be and all that,” said Springer. “And that it’s just fun to go out there and play hockey with your friends and that’s all you’re thinking about at that age.
“I think it’ll be nice to experience that again.”