THUNDER BAY, Ont.—The SIJHL, in partnership with Hockey Northwestern Ontario, wrapped up the initial staging of the HNO U15 development camp held in Thunder Bay over the weekend.
Close to 80 participants from across northwestern Ontario took part with the players placed on four teams, named after the four Canadian-based clubs in the SIJHL; the Ice Dogs, Lakers, Miners, and North Stars.
Among those instructing the participants on the ice were long-time SIJHL head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan of the Fort Frances Lakers and former Dryden Ice Dogs' defenceman Joey Pell.
Strachan is the winningest coach in league history and boasts a record five Coach-of-the-Year awards and a trio of Bill Salonen Cup championships to his credit.
Also on hand to lend their expertise were local coaching icon, and current SIJHL senior advisor of hockey operations, Dave Siciliano, along with another local legend, as a player and coach, Rick Adduono.
Former Thunder Bay Senators' great Jason Firth also assisted on the ice, along with veteran goaltender coach Rick Baraniuk.
“The SIJHL would like to thank Wayne Strachan of the Fort Frances Lakers and all of our on-ice instructors for taking time out of their schedules to volunteer their time, while giving back and supporting this worthwhile development program for our area youth,” said league Commissioner Bryan Graham.
“Also, a special thanks to HNO and technical director Jim Fetter for their support and commitment to this event.”
The SIJHL sees the project as a win-win scenario for all parties who took part as each of the instructors shared their guidance and expertise while making sure everyone learned a thing or two, enjoyed themselves and—most importantly—had fun.
“It's minor hockey players like these who could be the next SIJHL standouts, like Robert Bortuzzo, who scored the game-winning goal for the St. Louis Blues Monday night vs. the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs or Carter Hutton of the St. Louis Blues, who led the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage in 2017-18,” said Graham.
"Or even another highly-touted prospect in Keighan Gerrie, who is projected to be selected in next month's NHL Draft in Vancouver.
“We look forward to continuing this partnership with Hockey Northwestern Ontario in the years to come,” he concluded.