The Lloydminster Bobcats Junior A hockey team is to benefit from the City of Lloydminster waiving of weekday daytime ice fees. The decision came down at Council meeting on Monday April 26. The waiver will cover the duration of the 2021/2022 season.
Like many other groups the Bobcats have been challenged by the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
General Manager and Head coach Nigel Dube estimates the average savings on the waiver at about 8 to 12 thousand dollars.
“We look at this as a victory. There’s so many components that go into making a Junior A hockey team happen and this is definitely one of those components. We are very appreciative of the Council’s support for our daytime ice next year.”
Dube has been with the organization for two years. He witnessed one full season and then a handful of games before the COVID restrictions brought ice time to an end. Bobcats players returned to their respective communities last November.
Staff have kept in touch with the players online and are monitoring their fitness levels and their entire well-being. Dube speaks to the challenge of a player advancing their career without any ice time in the COVID era.
“It’s important for them to continue to stay in shape physically and grow and stay healthy mentally, and be prepared for when we can play next year. I think the question for a lot of the scouts and everybody watching is how did you better yourself through this?”
Dube says some of the players on the roster have been able to use the gym and get back on the ice in their home communities, some even have been able to be part of their old high school programs, but for others this has not been the case. Bobcats staff have been checking in with the players both on the fitness side and on their mental health.
The challenge of Junior A hockey is that most teams are owned by community-minded businesses. Dube explains that AJHL hockey is more about building community and not just a return on investment.
“I think that you just see the support of the community and that’s what we’re seeing from the City Council here. We see it from our sponsors, we see it from our season ticket holders and from our billet. Those people have all continued to support us through this.”
Fingers crossed, the Bobcats organization will be hoping to get their players back on the Civic Centre ice this September and take advantage of all the benefits that ice time will afford that shooting the puck at a home garage door does not.