Summer Series: A Franchise is Born

*This summer, the Bobcats are excited to partner with Lloydminster's Robert Lister for a series of articles that will shine a spotlight on the 35 year history of the Lloydminster Jr. A Franchise, including some of the past and present people who have been a part of the organization. Part one is a look at the beginning of it all, the Lloydminster Lancers.*

As Canada’s premier border city, it’s fitting that we’re a good old Canadian hockey town to boot. But as a town literally stuck between big cities in separate provinces to the east and west it hasn’t been easy. Tales of long, bumpy bus rides shuttling local Lloydminster boys to far flung arenas are shared experiences amongst players regardless of what decade they played and what team they played for. Be it Lancers, Blazers and now Bobcats. But despite any discomfort encountered pre-game when Lloydminster took to the ice they always gave it their all.

Several attempts were made, as early as 1970, before a Junior A franchise came to fruition in ’82. The Lancers were born from the passion of hard working individuals dedicated to giving the city its very own team, and the community itself contributed with sheer enthusiasm at the prospect of having one. A naming contest was held with a staggering two-hundred and nineteen possible candidates. Some of the more popular options were the Lloydminster Express and the Thunderbirds. The winner that emerged was of course the Lloydminster Lancers.

The first head coach was Larry Sauer with Ted Cavanagh chosen as assistant coach. The next task was to assemble the team itself. A daily effort was conducted to invite ten potential players to try their hand at earning a spot on the roster. Fundraising and transportation matters were handled in short order and Lloydminster was ready to take to the ice. It was a rocky start at first, with the initial exhibition game against Fort McMurray lost on account of new team nerves and jitters. But community support never wavered, with fans cheering on their new team.

When the Lancers had their first home game against the Moose Jaw Canucks, they did not disappoint. With roaring Lloydminster fans behind them, the Lancers won their home town debut 6-4 over Moose Jaw. With this victory the border city had a team to root for. But not only did the community benefit the team, the players themselves would walk away with experiences and skills that would be with them their whole lives. This was not limited to hockey alone, but also to valuable tools for them to utilize so that they could excel off the ice.

The Lancers played in the Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League for seven years, performing well during their time in the league including a trip to the final in 1987. However there was a significant problem that needed to be remedied. This was mounting travel expenses and the grueling amount of time it took transporting the team from game to game in Saskatchewan. Anyone who has lived in the Lloydminster area knows how exhausting a six to seven hour ride to Moose Jaw or Regina can be. The solution that was brought forth was to make a bid to move the Lancers to the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

With such an important decision made, another matter was brought into focus. This was changing the name of the team. The origin story of Lloydminster hockey was coming to an end with the Lancer era, and it was time for the Blazers to skate into the scene.