With the 2015 version of Hockey Canada’s RBC Cup set to begin next weekend in Portage, Manitoba, Lloydminster’s turn to host the National Junior ‘A’ Championship is just over a year away. The five-team tournament, which will feature the host Lloydminster Bobcats, three regional champions (West, Central, East), and the West Region runner-up, and four regional winners, will take place at the Centennial Civic Centre from May 14 – 22, 2016. The championship game on May 22 will be broadcast live on TSN, once again putting Lloydminster on the national stage. As the host committee approaches the one-year mark, preparations are well underway here in Lloydminster.
The tournament’s major sponsor, the Royal Bank of Canada, is a national corporate partner of Hockey Canada and is a league sponsor with the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The local Lloydminster RBC branch has also wasted no time stepping up to get involved with the 2016 tournament, building on pre-existing relationships with the Bobcats to ensure the Lloydminster community has the best experience possible during the nine day tournament. All throughout the event, fans will be treated to numerous promotional games and activities in the RBC Fan Zone, an area surrounding the host arena. The event will also be staffed with dedicated RBC volunteers not only from the Lloydminster branch, but from surrounding branches as well including Wainwright, Cold Lake, and Macklin, among others.
The host Lloydminster Bobcats continue to make adjustments as they prepare to compete for the franchise’s first-ever national championship. As of May 1st, Coach Gord Thibodeau will take over General Manager duties from Coach Garry VanHereweghe, as originally agreed upon last May when Gord Thibodeau was hired on. The team is pleased to keep Garry VanHereweghe on for another season in the role of Coach & Assistant General Manager, and will also retain Assistant Coach Kris Wiebe, Strength & Conditioning Coach Curtis Johnson, and Athletic Therapist Jeff Sotkowy for 2015-16 in their respective roles. Tom Keca has been hired on as the team’s Head Scout, and will oversee a strong scouting staff throughout Western Canada. The entire hockey operations staff will have a busy summer ahead of them leading up to the September 11 AJHL league start date, with 20 eligible returning players, multiple high-end recruits, and key pieces coming in from previous trades.
With just over twelve months before the tournament kicks off, the local committee is making strong strides on ticket sales and volunteer recruitment. All season ticket holders will have first right to RBC Cup Tournament Packages until the team’s season starts on September 11, so fans looking to purchase tournament packages can do so through the Bobcats Office at 780.871.0900. Current season ticket holders have until this Friday, May 1 to commit to their season tickets for the 2015-16 season and to their tournament package for the 2016 RBC Cup before they are released to the public. Following a two week move-around period for current season ticket holders, any available 2015-16 season tickets will be released to the public on Monday, May 18 at 9:00 AM. Members of the community interested in volunteering for the tournament alongside RBC volunteers can contact Volunteer Chair Todd Kirkpatrick via firstname.lastname@example.org.