Jr. A Bobcats benefit from talented midgets


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April 14, 2016 6:00 AM

The logo on the jersey is the same, but Zane Franklin wears No. 16 on the midget Bobcats. Here he is wearing No. 29 as a call up for the Lloydminster Bobcats junior A team for a game on Dec. 9, 2015.

Sometimes, big brother needs a little help from his young brother.
That was the case this year when the Lloydminster Bobcats were dealt a handful of injuries all at the same time and needed to rely on the midget AAA Bobcats to fill in a few open roster spots.
Most call ups don’t play big minutes, but that wasn’t the case for the talented players on the midget roster. Some were put in top line situations, played on the power play and even got some penalty kill time, while defencemen rotated like they normally would through the three lines.
It was a benefit to the junior A team to have a talent pool readily available to them, one that was easily called upon at a moments notice.
“First and foremost, Travis Clayton does a great job with that hockey team,” said junior A Bobcats coach Gord Thibodeau. “The kids are very intelligent and we are fortunate to have that mix of players. We are obviously very pleased for their success and I know they are going to have a successful Telus Cup.”
Parker Saretsky, Zane Franklin and Jaxan Kaluski each played four games this season for the junior A team, while Ryan Schoettler, Bryce Kindopp, Kobe Walker and Tristan Petrie got two games each.
That also doesn’t count players such as Logan Ganie and T.J. Lloyd who played games with the Spruce Grove Saints.
Back on Dec. 9 in a meeting between the Bobcats and Saints, four midget Bobcats were involved in the Alberta Junior Hockey League game,  with Franklin and Saretsky squaring off against Ganie and Lloyd.
Ganie had the game tying goal with less than a minute remaining in the third period, giving Spruce Grove one point in a 3-2 shoot out loss.
“They will be prepared, they will be ready and they’re hungry,” said Thibodeau. “We’ve seen all year with every player called up from that program that they are ready. They are smart, they think the game well and it has been a big benefit to us.”
Kaluski signed with the junior A club last year, and the hope would be that some of the other midget players would stick around in town to give the older brother Bobcats a more local flavour.
However, Thibodeau is well aware of how skilled the midget players are and that many of them will be playing in the Western Hockey League next season.
But in the near future, a few of the midgets will come back from the Telus Cup and join the junior A club as reserve players for the RBC Cup run the junior A Bobcats will have, another benefit for a healthy relationship between the two clubs who are both competing for national cups.
“There are some real quality hockey players that should move to the next level and the Western league,” said Thibodeau. “Selfishly, we would love them all to stay home and play for the hometown team, but that might not be the best option for some of those kids. If we can have a few of them stick around that would be great, but we want all these kids to go to the level they deserve to be at.
“If they go to the WHL, we wish them all the success.”

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