For four Lloydminster Bobcats fans, their priorities are pretty straight forward — the Bobcats are No. 1.
For the past 34 years, since the inaugural season of junior A hockey back in 1982-83, Brian and Brenda Thomas, Donna Tripp and Desmond Baynon have been season ticket holders. Back then, they were the Lancers, transitioned into the Blazers and now the Bobcats, but all four have kept their support and rarely miss a game either in person or on the radio.
“We just don’t miss them, they come first,” said Brenda Thomas. “Sometimes they come before the grandchildren even.”
Brenda and Donna both worked the concession stand in the early years, as well as ran the team’s bingo night, an event they wished to see return. They also billeted players, ensuring the team they loved to watch was taken care of any possible way they could.
So in honour of their years of commitment to the team and constant presence in the stands for Lloydminster home games, the four season ticket holders picture was placed on a ticket for the upcoming Royal Bank Cup, alongside Lloydminster NHL stars Scott Hartnell, Braden Holtby and Wade Redden.
As well, they were honoured with the first booklets when tickets were being distributed, a gesture that seemed only fitting for four people who have supported local hockey, literally from the very beginning.
“I never thought in a million years that we would be on a ticket,” said Brenda. “We are very honoured. It is just an honour to watch these guys and to see them make it to the North Finals. The guys are so awesome in the community. I wouldn’t miss a Bobcat game. I do whatever around the Bobcats.”
“I love junior hockey,” said Brian, who was also a member of the Bobcats executive earlier in the franchises history. “I love the speed of the game. If we didn’t have this, I’d watch midget hockey.”
“You just don’t want to miss a game,” said Donna Tripp. “These guys are young and they need your support. It’s just great to be here to support them.”
Lloydminster has never won a league championship or reached the national championship level, making this year a special year for the four season ticket holders, who have experienced plenty of playoff hockey in the past, but not at the level the RBC Cup will be at. For them, it isn’t just excitement for them, as they are excited for the players to get the experience as well.
“I’m excited for them and excited for the community,” said Brenda. “It’s just been a pleasure.”
For the RBC Cup host committee, it is people such as Brian, Brenda, Donna and Desmond that have kept the organization going forward, ensuring at least at a minimum, four people are always watching the games and have been since the beginning.
“I’m glad we could do something for them at an event of this magnitude,” said Malcolm Radke, co-chair of the RBC Cup host committee and Bobcats business manager.
“It’s people like that that have been keeping this organization going and it’s fans like them that we do it for. It was a pretty easy decision. It’s not just about the players on this team this year, but the players back in the Lancer days in the 80s, the Blazers and now the Bobcats, off the ice from the board to the all the volunteers and staff.
“Everyone has put in a lot of work to get us to this point, so they are just four of the deserving people based on the amount of money and time they have put into it all.”