The City of Lloydminster is having quite a spring; not only will the Border City host the RBC Cup, Canada’s National Junior A Championship, next month, but
the Lloydminster Bobcats are off to the TELUS Cup.
It was evident early that the Bobcats were going to be a contender in the Alberta Midget Hockey League; Lloydminster opened its schedule by stringing
together eight consecutive wins by a 34-9 margin.
“We had a real strong first half of the season; we were in first place from the first game right up until our Christmas break and that got us an invite to
the Mac’s tournament in Calgary,” says head coach Travis Clayton.
“It’s a very big tournament out here in Western Canada and we continued our success there. We had a really strong tournament; we went undefeated in the
round-robin play and went on to lose in the final to the Calgary Flames 2-1.”
By then, the Bobcats were virtually unbeatable, led by a lights-out defence.
Lloydminster allowed only 62 goals in 34 regular-season games, 18 less than any other team. That was the lowest total in the AMHL since the Red Deer Chiefs
allowed just 55 in 2013, when they won their second consecutive TELUS Cup.
Goaltenders Austin McGrath and Dane Dow shared the duties during the regular season, finishing one-two in goals-against average (McGrath – 1.81; Dow –
1.84) and wins (Dow – 13; McGrath – 12).
The Bobcats stuck to their strength when the playoffs came around, with McGrath carrying the goaltending load, but it wasn’t the best of starts against the
Leduc Oil Kings in the AMHL quarter-finals.
“They always say the first round of the playoffs is that hardest one to win and that’s how it was for us,” remembers Clayton. “[Leduc] led the first game
1-0 and we didn’t score our first goal until there were 20 seconds left to tie it up and win it in overtime.
“We then lost Game 2 in which they gave us a huge beating; we lost 7-3 in their barn. That was an eye-opener for the boys that we couldn’t take anything
lightly. After that we blew them out the next game before winning game 4 only 1-0. They pushed right until the end and I thought that was our toughest
Once the Bobcats got by the Oil Kings, the defence really took over. They swept the Sherwood Park Kings – who had lost only one of their previous 16 games
– opening the best-of-five series with back-to-back shutouts.
In the AMHL final, Lloydminster faced off against the defending champion Foothills Bisons and posted a complete shutout – sweeping the series thanks to
10-0, 5-0 and 3-0 wins.
“Obviously our goaltending is very strong, but we also have four lines that can play against anyone,” Clayton says. “The depth is what I feel got us
through the playoffs because we were rolling our four lines and that saved a lot of guys some energy.”
Since it was the AMHL’s year to host the Pacific Regional, the Bobcats welcomed the B.C. Major Midget League champions, the Valley West Hawks, for the
best-of-three weekend series.
The Hawks ended Lloydminster’s (and McGrath’s) shutout streak at more than 263 minutes in Game 1, but the Bobcats posted a 4-1 victory, and booked their
ticket to Quispamsis, N.B., one night later with a 5-3 win to finish the sweep.
After playing in seven games in as many days at the Mac’s tournament, and playing in front of big crowds throughout their postseason run, the Bobcats are
as ready as they’ll ever be to excel at Canada’s National Midget Championship.
“I don’t think you ever get used to [the grind], but we’ll have an idea of what it’ll take to win and that’ll help us a lot,” Clayton says. “And obviously
with the crowds we had in the playoffs, and then in the Pacific [Regional], the boys will be used to the atmosphere.”
HOW LLOYDMINSTER GOT TO QUISPAMSIS
Alberta Midget Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Leduc 3-1 (2-1 OT, 3-7, 7-2, 1-0)
Semifinal: defeated Sherwood Park 3-0 (3-0, 4-0, 5-1)
AMHL championship: defeated Foothills 3-0 (10-0, 5-0, 3-0)
Championship: defeated Valley West 2-0 (4-1, 5-3)
Record: 26-5-3 (1st in AMHL)
Goals For: 129 (4th in AMHL)
Goals Against: 62 (1st in AMHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 8 (Oct. 3-31)
Top 3 Scorers:
Logan Ganie – 18G 20A 38P (13th in AMHL)
Zane Franklin – 15G 21A 36P (T-19th in AMHL)
Bryce Kindopp – 14G 22A 36P (T-19th in AMHL)
Goals For: 52
Goals Against: 15
Top 3 Scorers:
Zane Franklin – 7G 8A 15P
Bryce Kindopp – 6G 6A 12P
Ty Smith – 1G 11A 12P
NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
PLAYERS TO WATCH
big-bodied forward … natural goal scorer … aggressive player … plays with an edge … quick release … hard to take down … very difficult to knock off the
puck … good hands
good combination of speed, determination and hustle … tough to play against … takes hits to make plays … good around the net on rebounds … likes to play
premier defenceman in his age group … elite skater … ability to quarterback the PP … off-the-charts offensive awareness … controls the game with the puck
on his stick
WHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
Ty Smith – Spokane 2015 (1st round, 1st overall)
Jantzen Leslie – Everett 2014 (1st round, 15th overall)
Chase Wouters – Saskatoon 2015 (1st round, 19th overall)
Zane Franklin – Lethbridge 2014 (2nd round, 43rd overall)
Bryce Kindopp – Everett 2014 (3rd round, 49th overall)
Austin McGrath – Medicine Hat 2013 (4th round, 76th overall)
Orrin Centazzo – Everett 2014 (5th round, 107th overall)
Ryan Schoettler – Prince George 2014 (7th round, 137th overall)
Logan Ganie – Kamloops 2014 (9th round, 178th overall)
Dane Dow – Kamloops 2014 (10th round, 201st overall)