The Superior International Junior Hockey League will be holding its Annual General Meeting Wednesday June 29th in Thunder Bay as a prelude to the upcoming 2017 – 18 season.
Among the topics of discussion will be to finalize plans for the new season, the formulation of the 2017-18 game schedule, the 2018 playoff format, updating league rules and regulations, the SIJHL Showcase, discussions on potential league expansion and other related matters.
Schedule: The SIJHL is expected to announce its 2017 – 18 regular season schedule within the next couple of weeks.
Each of the six member clubs are once again expected play a 56-game slate.
Regular Season: Regular season play is expected to commence in the third week of September and conclude by mid-March.
Showcase: Once again included in the regular season schedule will be the SIJHL Showcase.
The two-day event is expected to be held in late January of 2018 with the location of the Showcase slated to be finalized during the AGM.
All six league teams will play twice during the Showcase with all games counting towards the overall standings.
Commitments: The SIJHL has already seen 17 players who played in the league this past season, and one other alumnus from a previous year commit to play collegiate or university hockey in Canada or the U.S. starting in the fall.
Playoffs: The 2018 Bill Salonen Cup playoff format will be confirmed during the SIJHL’s AGM.
Dudley Hewitt Cup: The SIJHL’s Dryden GM Ice Dogs will serve as the host for the 2018 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 1st – 5th, at Dryden’s Memorial Arena.
The five-day event will feature the respective champions of the SIJHL, the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey League taking part as well as the host GM Ice Dogs.
Should Dryden repeat as Bill Salonen Cup titlists, then the SIJHL finalist would round out the four-team field.
RBC Cup: Awaiting the Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner will be the 2018 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 12-20, in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
The Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL will host the nationals and they will be joined by the winners of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup and Fred Page Cup (Eastern Canada) as well as two representatives from Western Canada.
Team by Team Updates
Dryden Ice Dogs: The GM Ice Dogs will enter the season as the league’s defending Bill Salonen Cup champion. They will also host the 2018 Dudley-Hewitt Cup. Among the early signings by the club in the off-season was the naming of Wayne Labrie as the team’s new director of hockey operations and scouting. Dryden’s first couple of player signings was defenceman Evan Cusmano and forward Evan Walls, who were acquired from the Virden Oil Capitals (MJHL) and the Kamloops Storm (KIJHL) respectively.
English River Miners: The Miners will host their 2017 main training camp September 6th – 8th in Red Lake with their 23-25 man 2017-18 team roster being selected from this camp. Any unattached interested parties looking to attend the three-day camp are asked to contact head coach/general manager Derek Sweet-Coulter via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or assistant GM Chris Pimblott at email@example.com with any questions.
Fort Frances Lakers: Fort Frances has already been busy starting to formulate their roster for 2017-18 with Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan having re-signed forward Jack Bernie and defenceman Connor Keith for the upcoming campaign. The organization has also added a pair of newcomers in ’98 defenseman Cohen MacPherson and ’97 forward Jeff Venson. Fort Frances will also be holding a tryout camp July 14th – 16th at Broncos Arena in International Falls, Minnesota.
Minnesota Iron Rangers: Newly promoted head coach and general manager Todd Kreibich has been busily scouting and evaluating talent in preparation for the upcoming season as he looks to guide the Iron Rangers in his first full season in command in Hoyt Lakes. The Iron Rangers first tryout camp was held earlier this month in Andover, Minnesota with a second camp slated for July 28th – 29th in Bemidji, Minnesota. Minnesota’s main camp is set for the end of August.
Thief River Falls Norskies: Looking to build on an impressive first season, both on the ice and off it where they set numerous league attendance records, Thief River Falls will attempt to improve even more under the guidance 2016 – 17 CCM Hockey first team all-star general manager Kevin McCallum and coach of the year finalist Cole Workman. The Norskies have signed towering 6’5″ and 235 lbs defenceman Conor Parker from Wisconsin. They’ve also added another big defenseman in Chris Pederson, who hails from Calgary, Alberta and played last season in the KIJHL in British Columbia. The club has also hired Zack Upton as the team’s new head equipment manager. On the ice the Norksies held a Prospects Camp in Thief River Falls over the weekend.
Thunder Bay North Stars: The North Stars welcome a new head coach for 2017 – 18 with Rob Degagne joining the team after spending the past couple seasons behind the bench of the Thunder Bay major midget Kings AAA side where he was named the North American Prospects Hockey League’s U18 Coach of the Year. The North Stars team tryouts are scheduled for August 18th – 20th at Current River Arena in Thunder Bay, Ontario.