On September 23rd when the Bobcats play host to the Spruce Grove Saints, they will also be welcoming Border King Almnus to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Border Kings first Allan Cup Championship, as well as the upcoming 10th anniversary of their win in the 07 season.
The Border Kings will be joining the Bobcats for the ceremonial face off where the two former Captain's of the Allan Cup winning teams, Scott Hood and Merv Mann will be dropping the puck.
We caught up with Scott Hood and former coach, general manager and player, Owen Noble ahead of Border Kings Night on the 23rd.
When Ron MacLean and the rest of Sportsnet's Hometown Hockey comes to the Border City this March, there will be no shortage of notable people or great moments to highlight Lloydminster's hockey history.
Weaved between past, present and future NHLers native to Lloydminster, is a story of a men's AAA senior hockey team that captivated the city time and time again, and represented the greatest hockey nation on earth.
Scott Hood played for the Border Kings from 1999-2008 and again in 2011 when the team hosted the Allan Cup tournament. Looking back, Hood says he remembers the closeness of the team.
“Its definitely the camaraderie we had with the group, that was the biggest thing. We were such a tight knit group. We were all buddies, we all worked in the community and had families; sitting around having a beer we'd just talk about work or talk about anything and it was always a great time, regardless whether it was a Tuesday night or a Friday night,” says Hood.
To say the Border Kings were a successful franchise would be a glaring understatement. In 2001 and 2007 the Border Kings outlasted some of Canada's top men's senior teams to be crowned National Champions, winning one of hockey's oldest trophies, the Allen Cup.
Owen Noble currently lives in the City of Lloydminster and was a big part of the franchise for close to 33 years. Noble coached the team in 2001 when it won it's first Allen Cup.
“It was unbelievable; we went there not really knowing what we were getting into, we were basically the underdogs going into it and then everything clicked…we played well and our goaltender, Jason Clague -MVP Goaltender of the tournament- stood on his head. It was meant to be and it was one of the best feelings I have had in senior hockey.”
Noble began his stint with the Border Kings as a player in 81-82 and was with the team in coaching and managerial roles through the Allan Cup winning years. Due to player numbers dwindling in the community and the commitment needed to play high level senior hockey, the Border Kings will unfortunately not field a team for the 2016-17 season. It's not just the hockey Noble will miss.
“Number one is getting out and meeting people in different towns. I miss being able to bring some good senior hockey to town. There was a lot of people that enjoyed the senior hockey because our team was made up of about 90 to 95 percent of local boys, which meant a lot to this town. I miss bringing good senior hockey to Lloyd,” said Noble.
The 2007 Allan Cup tournament in Stony Plain, Alberta was a little closer to home, allowing Lloydminster fans to pack the Glen Hall Centennial Arena.
“The stands were full of Lloydminster fans, I couldn't believe it … It was a tournament that was set up that we probably shouldn't have won, but again we had a goaltender that stood on his head; we went into the tournament and lost our first game and never looked back,”said Noble.
Hood was captain of the team in 2007, and agreed that being so close to home made the winning the Cup a little more special.
“The biggest thing I remember was playing there in front of our family and friends, the rink was just packed, that was probably the thing that meant the most to me – wearing the 'C' you get the trophy first but there were 25-27 guys that deserved it just as much. It's a special feeling getting it first but like I said we had such tight knit groups over the years, it really felt nice that close to home.” said Hood.
Winning the Allan Cup meant the team would travel to Poland and represent the country internationally in a series against the Polish national hockey team. Pulling on the red and white Team Canada jersey is a feeling Hood will never forget.
“It was great, it was awesome; but definitely weird. We didn't know what to expect, we were just a bunch of farm boys from Saskatchewan going to play Poland's national team and we held our own for the most part. It was fun to hear the Canadian National Anthem play and to go with that group of guys as buddies, besides team mates, it was a pretty special trip.”
When the team went to Poland, Noble had been with the franchise for 25-plus years and also fondly remembers watching the Border Kings put on the Team Canada jersey.
“It was phenomenal…Watching the pre-skate when everybody had their Canadian jerseys on, it was quite a feeling. It was quite a feeling going over there. We knew we were up against some tough competition; we went out there, we were well respected and everyone played their hearts out,” said Noble.
To commemorate the Allan Cup winning teams, the Lloydminster Bobcats will be welcoming past members of the Border Kings on September 23rd when the team plays host to the Spruce Grove Saints.
In a special pre-game ceremony, players from both the 2001 and 2007 teams will be introduced and the captains of the cup-winning teams, Merv Mann and Scott Hood, will be on hand to drop the ceremonial puck.
Border Kings members and their families will be invited to stay after the game for refreshments.
“We have contacted everyone that played in 01 and 07, and 95 per cent of the guys are coming back; just to sit down and reminisce and see some guys you haven't seen in 5, 10 years, and talk about the good times we had as a group, that is what I'm most looking forward to, it will be really nice,” said Hood.