While several leagues across North America have recently halted play due to the rise in COVID-19 numbers the Superior International Junior Hockey League is set to begin their regular season. After a couple of delays in the season and a handful of exhibition games the SIJHL will kick off its 20th regular season on Friday when the Kam River Fighting Walleye host the Thunder Bay North Stars.
New to the SIJHL in 2020 are the Fighting Walleye who play out of NorWest Arena in Oliver Paipoonge. Its just a 27 km drive west of Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay – home of the six-time champion North Stars.
The two teams have met four times in preseason play in a scheduled eight-game series dubbed the Teleco Cup. The North Stars have dominated the newcomers winning all four games, but the next four will have more at stake.
Teleco Cup results
Nov. 6 North Stars 5, Fighting Walleye 4
Nov. 7 North Stars 4, Fighting Walleye 2
Nov. 13 North Stars 7, Fighting Walleye 4
Nov. 14 North Stars 7, Fighting Walleye 2
Kam River host the North Stars Friday and Saturday 8:00 PM at NorWest Arena.
League action continues on Sunday night when the Red Lake Miners host Dryden Ice Dogs. Game time at Cochenour Arena is scheduled for 8:00 PM. The teams meet the next night with a 7:30 PM start.
Red Lake posted a pair of exhibition victories over Dryden last weekend winning 6-5 and 5-4.
SIJHL has yet to release the schedule beyond December 5. Fort Frances Lakers have been preparing for the season under new head coach Bernie Lynch. A veteran on the bench Lynch spent the past two seasons in Alberta guiding the Edson Aeros (WSHL) to a 81-9-1-1 record and two division titles.
Fort Frances recently announced nine returners from last season when the team finished 21-27-4-2.
As for the two American based teams – Thief River Falls Norskies and Wisconsin Lumberjacks – border restrictions may keep the clubs out of action this season. SIJHL announced a 20-game regular season meaning the five Canadian teams would play each other five times. The top four will advance to the SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup playoffs.
With the current state of the pandemic changing daily teams can expect changes and adjustments. For now players can enjoy playing the game they love.