Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Saskatchewan’s Finest: Perlinger twins desperate to bring playoffs home to Kindersley

(Photo credit to Kelly Kocur Jacobson)

(Article written and produced by Jamie Neugebauer)

Kindersley Klippers head coach and general manager Clayton Jardine is an exceptionally astute and observant individual.

So, it is saying something that he had to dig deep to think of anything that sets Cobe and Cam Perlinger, a set of 16-year-old twins playing for him on their hometown team, apart.

“Maybe Cobe has a girlfriend so that’s something?” Jardine says with a laugh.

“Seriously though I wish I could say one has a different trait from the other really but it’s a pretty simple answer for me; they are just very similar in everything that they do. On the ice, they have that ‘twin’ mentality where they make plays and find each other, they have that remarkable chemistry, and it’s great for our team because they play an exciting brand of hockey that really helps build momentum as a group through the tough times of a game.

“You don’t ever have to question their work ethic or mindset,” he adds.

“They show up every single game, and play the way they need to, with energy and with no fear even if they are lining up against a much bigger guy.”

The lone 2007 birth years featuring regularly in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this campaign, the two locals have not looked out of place for a moment.

Both are listed as 5-foot-9, 160-pound forwards, perhaps the only obvious on-ice difference is the fact that Cam shoots right and Cobe left. At the time of writing, Cam has four more points with 20, Cobe has three more goals with eight, and their play and maturity were recognized with a well-earned selection to the 2024 SJHL/MJHL Showcase at the end of January in Winnipeg.

Yet the Showcase was not the first time the pair were singled out to represent Kindersley and the province.

The Canada Winter Games includes a hockey tournament that features the best Under-16 players in the country on the boys’ side, and U-18 on the girls, and the Perlinger family was front and centre for the 2023 event in Prince Edward Island as the two and their big sister Caitlyn were all selected.

Team Saskatchewan ultimately lost a heartbreaking Gold Medal final to Ontario in overtime.

“It was pretty special for our family to share that experience together as our dad spent the full two weeks there too,” Cam says.

“It was a lot of fun and especially awesome that Cobe, Catelyn, and I can all relate that it was so special for us.”

“It was just so cool to make that team,” Cobe adds.

“I was just sitting there staring at my phone in early December hoping to make it and when it came through for both of us it was special. We were so pumped and it was probably the coolest experience in my life playing that gold medal game in a sold-out arena in Charlottetown.”

The two played their minor hockey close to home with the West Central Wheat Kings and moved 230 kilometres south last year to play U18AAA in Swift Current.

When the opportunity came to come back home again for this season and be part of a core of five top-notch Kindersley boys representing their hometown, they could not pass it up.

“It has definitely been good to have my dad around and it’s so nice to play with guys like (captain) Logan Linklater, and the Hilbig brothers (Tylin and Ethan),” Cobe says.

“We’ve looked up to those guys our whole lives pretty much and to now actually able to be on the same team as them is special. We’re just kind of like a big family in Kindersley, so to wear the same uniform as those guys on a nightly basis means a lot to us.”

As much as Coach Jardine and his staff and the community are proud to have two sets of local brothers on the team, they care even more about bringing the passionate Kindersley community a competitive, playoff team.

The last time the Klippers were in the post-season was in the 2018-19 season, coached by Jardine – who went off to the Alberta Junior Hockey League the next year – and was backstopped by Justen Close, another Kindersley boy who has won back-to-back NCAA Division I BIG10 Regular Season championships as the starter at the University of Minnesota.

The Klippers sit in sixth place at the time of writing in a league where the Top 8 make the playoffs. They are also only one point behind Melville for fifth, though the Mils have two games in hand.

As talented as the roster Jardine has put together around the Perlinger boys and the Kindersley Five, it is the competitiveness and determination of the group that truly defines it.

“Cobe and Cam definitely challenge each other in everything they do,” Jardine says, “so the example they set with the passion with which they do that is huge for our team.

“Sometimes we have to pull them apart,” he laughs.

“They go at each other hard because that’s what brothers do, but at the end of the day you know they have each other, and they want the other guy to play the best they can. It’s great to see how competitive these kids are, but for sure sometimes we have to break up a few fights.”

As far as the twins’ blend of talent and grit is concerned, the adage rings true that ‘the apple does not fall far from the tree’.

Their father Jeff hails from North Battleford and is a beloved alumnus of the North Stars; also known as the Klippers’ huge rivals.

Perlinger senior played in 195 SJHL games between 1987 and 1991 and posted 187 points to go with 431 penalty minutes.

“Yeah it’s kind of funny to see him as a Battlefords legend,” says Cam, “but we like to think he’s all Kindersley now.

“It was a big rivalry growing up, but there’s no doubt we want to beat them a little extra every time we play them. The biggest thing is that he knows what it’s like to be a hometown guy playing on the local team so it’s great to have him around to relate to.”

“He was in the alumni shootout for the Stars and I definitely gave it to him a little bit about that,” adds Cobe.

“But he’s more Kindersley now, especially with us from here and wearing the green, but he’s definitely got some Battlefords in his heart still.”

The two both mention how as much as the support they get from their dad has always been huge, the confidence they got from the veterans, especially the likes of Linklater and the Hilbigs, helped them settle in right away and believe that they could hang on the ice with players three and four years older in the SJHL.

And as the Klippers head into the recently unfamiliar waters of the SJHL playoffs, Jardine’s message to the community is centred around how the teams’ success so far in this campaign belongs to everyone in the ‘Hub of West Central Saskatchewan’.

“Having these two incredible young men and having these five-quality local people and players as part of a winning team,” he says, “it’s just something that the whole town of Kindersley needs to be proud of.

“It takes a village to raise kids and the 4,600 people or so of the town all rightly feel like they had a little bit of a piece of helping these two and all these guys get to where they are and to where they hope to go.”