Lloydminster Fountain Tire Bobcats Head Coach Curtis Johnson is joined by his staff and some players for the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) All-Star Game this month. Although experiencing an all-star game from a players point of view, Johnson has never been at the helm from behind the bench.
“It’s an exciting process to be a part of, beforehand being able to choose the team and get some feedback from coaches around the league, and then just go in and have some fun and soak it up with the rest of the boys. The kids are excited themselves, it’s kind of a pat on the back for some personal accomplishments they’ve had throughout the beginning of the year.”
The AMBHL has a format allowing a certain number of players can be chosen from each team. It may be tough to choose from a group of kids who you’ve developed a trust and bond with. North All-Star Coach Johnson says role players within the Bobcats won’t be able to showcase their skills, which he says makes the decision hard.
“It always is tough, and some guys who don’t have the flashy roles with our team that are important they don’t get to experience the all-star games or have the privilege to be a part of it.”
The four players representing the Bobcats for the Team North include goalie Lowen Kenyon, defenceman Mazden Leslie and forwards Ryker Singer and leading scorer in the AMBHL Jagger Firkus. Wainwright born Firkus as of January 3, 2019 has 25 goals and 21 assists in the first half of the season. The 14-year-old Assistant Captain believes it’s relaxing to have a staff that he is familiar with in his corner.
“You can talk to someone if you need to talk to someone, you have comfortable people, you know who they are, you know how they will answer your questions, and you don’t have to be shy.”
Firkus adds that his plan for the All-Star game is to go in and play his game, soaking in the skills from players around him. Coach Johnson says scouts will be at the game and with one practice beforehand makes it hard for the team to gel.
“You try and set the team up and the players up for as much success, “go have fun”, that type of thing as well, but it’s something that I am going to learn from. It’s my first go around and our coaches first go around, it’s going to be exciting.”
The annual AMBHL All-Star Game will take place in Fort Saskatchewan on January 12th, 2019 at 1 PM in the JRC Arena.