The Edmonton Oil Kings have took advantage of Lloydminster’s hockey factory, as three current members of the Western Hockey League club spent their minor hockey league career under the roof of the Centennial Civic Centre, developing into the players they are today. So their return to the ice they grew up playing on on Sept. 6 for Border Battle against the Saskatoon Blades will bring their hockey careers full circle, and give them one last chance to play in front of friends and family in their home rink.
For Vermilion’s Brandon Baddock, who suited up for 41 games with the Lloydminster Bobcats in 2011-12, it has been a few years since he played at the Civic Centre. Since his time with the junior A club, he has been drafted by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and won the 2014 Memorial Cup. But before he won top prize in major junior hockey and before he was even drafted by the Oil Kings, he spent his time as a member of Lloydminster’s elite hockey program, playing with the bantam Heat in 2009-10, and the minor midget Rage the year after.
So the idea of getting one more go on the ice where his elite career began is an exciting idea for the 20-year-old.
“I played for the Bobcats in my 16-year-old year and that is kind of where I started out my junior career as a stepping stone to the Oil Kings,” said Baddock. “So it is really exciting to come back.”
Joining Baddock will be Oil Kings forward Andrew Koep, who last season in his first year with the Oil Kings scored 14 goals and 40 points. Koep has been part of the Lloydminster elite hockey program since 2010 when he played his first of two seasons with the bantam Heat before two seasons with the midget Bobcats. For him, it is a special occassion to return to the city and rink where it all began and get one more chance to play at the Civic Centre.
“Growing up here and skating everyday as a kid, then getting an opportunity to play in the Western Hockey League in the same rink is something most people don’t get to do,” said Koep.
Kobe Mohr makes up the final member of the Lloydminster natives playing in the Border Battle, though so far, he has only three regular season games under his belt with the Oil Kings club. Last year he spent the majority of the season in Lloydminster playing for the midget Bobcats, scoring at a point per game pace. The game in Lloydminster may mean more to him, considering he is still looking to crack the main roster for next year, but he still expects a sold out crowd, and is happy to get one more game in at the Civic Centre before hopefully a season in Edmonton.
“It’s nice to know you are going to get to play here once more again,” said Mohr. “It’s always a great atmosphere here. It’s a huge opportunity for Lloydminster itself. Not many cities can host this kind of event.”