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Lloydminster Bobcats preparing for home opener in September

The Lloydminster Bobcats’ 2020/2021 regular season schedule has been released with plans to begin in September.

The AJHL announced the schedule on July 11 with teams playing 58 games in a new format. The format will have each team play one game against each team in the opposite division and two games in the AJHL Showcase. The league will also be implementing new rule changes including hybrid icing and penalties for diving.

Bobcats Head Coach and General Manager Nigel Dube is in favour of the changes as the old format took a toll on the team.

“We removed the three-in-threes, when you’re playing three games in 2.5 days, it takes a lot out of the guys. I like that we are more spread out this year and how the dates align.”

The team isn’t back to practice yet as the team is on break and the City of Lloydminster is working on plans to reopen the Centennial Civic Centre. There is one ice pad currently available at the Servus Sports Centre for user groups such as the Bobcats. Dube is hopeful that the guidelines will align and work out for the team.

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“We continue to monitor both Saskatchewan and Alberta. They’re hours if not days of each other in similar guidelines, so we’re pretty optimistic that they’ll continue to move together and we’ll monitor the things that are out of our control right now.”

Another wrinkle in this years season is Alberta Health regulations prohibiting indoor gatherings of more than 100 people which prevents larger crowds. Dube is hoping for the best with guidelines being loosened by September.

“It’s constantly changing and I think, if anything, this has taught us to adapt on the fly and find new ways quicker. We’re hopeful for our fans to be in the stands. It’s a big part of what makes junior hockey so exciting, not only for the fans but for our players, especially in a city like Lloydminster where the support is second to none.”

Dube says teammates and staff are in constant communication as they head into the new season and they’ve welcomed a few new players to the team. The Bobcats latest signings were Dalton Irvine from the Revelstoke Grizzlies and Nathan Carl from the Swan Valley Stampeders.

“[Carl’s] a veteran hockey player who knows our league. He’s from the North Division as well and is familiar with guys on our team. He can add some more offensive punch up front.”

The organization will also be hosting three separate three-day skills and drills camps starting on August 10. The camps are open to players born in 2000 to 2004.

“It’s exciting for us and the kids. I think they had a ton of fun last year and our players will be back. We’ll have both male and female instructors which is huge. We look forward to bringing positivity and helping the youth develop and get them ready for their season as well.”

The team is scheduled to play their first game against the Spruce Grove Saints on Friday, September 18 at the Centennial Civic Centre.

A schedule for the exhibition season will be announced in August. Plans for the 2021 Doyle Cup and 2021 Centennial Cup will be determined at a later date.

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