Sioux Lookout returns to SIJHL
The league’s record-breaking eighth team, the Sioux Lookout Bombers, are expected to start playing in the 2022-2023 campaign.
SIOUX LOOKOUT, Ont. – Make no mistake, Sioux Lookout Bombers are built to win and win quickly.
But between now and when the puck falls in September 2022, the record-breaking senior International Junior Hockey League franchise has a lot of growth – and fundraising to do.
Matt Cairns, one of the team’s four co-owners, said the team was born out of a desire to bring high-caliber hockey to the Northern Ontario community.
But it’s more than that, he says.
“We’re all from the north here. We all love hockey. We were all sad to see the Flyers go, ”said Cairns, referring to former SIJHL franchise Sioux Lookout, who spent four seasons in the league, dropping three games in the 2012-13 campaign.
“It left a kind of vacuum in the community. I have wanted to see Junior A hockey come back for several years. It’s sort of presented itself now.
He is convinced that now is the right time for the ownership team, which includes Joe Cassidy, Austen Hoey and Christine Hoey, a new group with new ideas, in a league which itself has evolved into something of very different from what it was nine years ago when the – Flyers on the ice folded.
“We got the unanimous support of the SIJHL Board of Governors, which I think speaks volumes about the level of confidence they have in our ability to put together a program that will be successful in the long term. Said Cairns, who has also worked closely with ownership group Kam River Fighting Walleye, a first-year success in the shortened SIJHL 2021-22 season, to overcome any expansion pitfalls they may face. .
Austen Hoey, the Bombers’ director of hockey operations, said the team would also be an inspiration for the development of hockey players in the area.
While they won’t just focus on Sioux Lookout and players in the region, the team will provide another route for the best players in the region to continue in the game.
“I believe, especially in a community like ours, where the highest level of hockey players aspire to today is the high school hockey team,” said Hoey.
“It’s not that there’s something wrong with that, but when there’s a junior team here, it takes those minor hockey league players to push themselves a little harder, because now they know the bar they are trying to reach is that much higher. I think it kind of creates a culture.
For now, finding these players is low on the priority list, with 17 months before the puck falls.
Cairns said the team, named after the water bombers that protect northwestern Ontario from the threat of wildfires each year and modeled after the former team’s green and gold color scheme from Queen Elizabeth High School, has already begun to build relationships in the Sioux Lookout area, including close to First Nations.
The team is seeking to raise approximately $ 150,000 to cover start-up costs, league dues and expansion costs, through partnerships with the local business community, raffles and a golf tournament. charity.
League commissioner Darrin Nicholas said the league is looking to move up to 10 teams and Sioux Lookout is still at the top of their roster, a natural rival with teams in Dryden and Fort Frances, and whose base of Potential fans in the past showed a willingness to support SIJHL. hockey.
“It’s no secret that one of our priorities was to get more teams and more communities involved in the league. I think I said very early in my tenure that our goal was to work towards 10. We can’t get to 10 until we get to eight, ”Nicholas said.
“As we looked around, sort of the scenery, the places where we thought it made sense for the league to participate, it’s clear that Sioux Lookout was the main contender, with a facility that already hosted a team. in our league, which is still capable. to house a team in our league.