A pair of 13-year-old defenceman named Josiah Lacerte and Linden Hart from Burns Lake have made the jump to Bantam AA and are now playing for the North Central Bobcats, a team based in Prince George.
The Bobcats are a billet team, meaning that instead of commuting back and forth, the players spend the school year in Prince George living with billet families. Lacerte and Hart are both attending Prince George Secondary School during the season, which is where the team recommends its players to go.
Lakes District News spoke to both players about the accomplishment, and neither one was surprised about making the team. “I was happy, and definitely thankful,” said Linden. I wasn’t surprised though. I’ve put in the work to get to this point so it was just about trusting that process.”
“I was pretty confident that I was going to make the team,” Said Josiah. “I was very proud of myself, but a bit sad that I was going to be moving away but you have to make sacrifices sometimes to achieve your goals.”
The move away from home has been an adjustment for both young men, but having each other there through the process has been a saving grace. “I’ve grown up playing with Josiah my entire life, and it’s cool that were doing this together. The living situation was hard at first, but you get used to it pretty fast. A few weeks with living my billet family and they’re already like a second family to me,” said Linden.
According to Philippe Lacerte, Josiah’s father, there is plenty to be proud of about the boy’s accomplishment from a parental side as well. “There were around 120 kids that tried out for the team, and several cuts during the tryout process. The fact that they made the team at such a young age, my wife and I couldn’t be prouder of our son.”
Lakes District News also spoke to Linden’s father Wes Hart, who expressed similar enthusiasm about the accomplishment. “I think in both cases they took it seriously, wanted to improve and wanted to make it to the next level and they incorporated that mindset in everything they did for the last few years. Now they’re seeing the work pay off. It’s satisfying for them and I’m proud that their seeing that work come to fruition,” said Wes.
“I’m glad they’re able to experience this together as well. They both went to William Konkin Elementary together, they played minor hockey here in Burns Lake, they played rep together. The fact that they’re both only 13 years old in a new place going to a new high school, at least they have each other as a familiar face, so it’s reassuring as a parent.”
Hart, who coached the boys in both the Burns Lake Minor Hockey program, as well as on the Northwest District U13 rep team, says that he’s having problems going to games as a fan instead of a coach.
I haven’t gotten kicked out for screaming yet, so that’s good,” he joked. “It’s definitely different, I do enjoy being able to just focus on your kid playing, when your a coach your always pulled in different directions. It is challenging though, especially since it’s your kid, you just have to keep your mouth shut and talk to him after the game. The biggest thing is that all the staff the Bobcats have is second to none so I know he’s in great hands.”
The Bobcats haven’t gotten out to a great start so far this season, starting the year with an 0-3-1 record, but Wes expects that to change going forward. “They haven’t gotten the results they’ve wanted yet, but it’s a young team, there’s a lot of 13-year-olds on the squad, it takes time to develop. A lot of the kids haven’t really played competitively in years because of COVID-19 as well.”
Despite the slow start, neither player is concerned about the season outlook.
“We’ve had a bit of a rocky start in the first few games but I still think were a solid group. Practices have been positive, and we’re looking forward to notching a lot more wins,” said Linden.
“The pace of the game is a lot quicker then peewee hockey, and with the added physical element you really have to keep your head up on the ice,” said Josiah. “We didn’t have a lot of chemistry early on, but I think were going to make a run in the playoffs, we have a lot of talent and were getting better every day.”
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