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SIJHL expansion Kam River Fighting Walleye name coach

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THUNDER BAY, Ont.—The Kam River Fighting Walleye of the SIJHL announced yesterday that Matt Valley has been named the club's first-ever head coach, leading into the club's inaugural season, the 2020-21 campaign.

Valley comes to the organization with a multitude of coaching and playing experience, including competing on in the SIJHL in Thunder Bay for two seasons with the local North Stars side as well as the former K&A Wolverines previously from 2009-11.

In turn, he will become just the second SIJHL alumnus to serve as a head coach in the league, joining current Thief River Falls Norskies' bench boss Wilson Housley in that group.

Seeing action in 88 career contests in the SIJHL on defence, Valley produced 50 points on 12 tallies and 38 assists.

From there he went on to attend Northland College in Ashland, Wis. and play NCAA Division III with the Lumberjacks men's program, who are members of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.

Playing 96 games with the Lumberjacks, Valley graduated from Northland and was a three-time member of the NCHA's All-Academic Team, in recognition of his scholastics.

The 29-year-old Thunder Bay product currently coaches the local 'AAA' Kings minor Midget side, who are gearing up to compete in the upcoming OHL Cup running March 17-23 in Toronto.

“We are excited to announce the hiring of Matt Valley as the first head coach in franchise history,” said Fighting Walleye general manager Kevin McCallum.

"When our ownership group gave me the responsibility of hiring a coach, I knew I had to find someone who shared our passion for development and moving players to the next level.

“We had a lot of interest from all over and after narrowing down the search, Matt was our top choice after the interview process. We believe we have the best person for the job and someone who shares our organizational goals and passion,” added McCallum.

As for Valley, he's looking forward to joining the Kam River organization, once his commitment to the Kings is complete.

“I feel truly humbled and blessed to be the inaugural head coach of the Kam River Fighting Walleye,” stated Valley.

“As an alumnus of the SIJHL, I'm very excited to play a significant role in building a competitive and prominent franchise and to help invigorate the love for junior 'A' hockey in my hometown of Thunder Bay.”

“To be honest, it was a true honour to have even been considered for the head coaching position of an expansion franchise, never mind being selected,” he concluded.

Players

The Walleye also announced yesterday the commitment of two players who will be graduating from the 'AAA' Kings U18 program this spring.

Defenceman Trystan Goodman and forward Bryson Cataldo have signed letters of intent to play for the Walleye in their inaugural season in 2020-21.

Kam River also announced two more players, who are expected to play big roles.

They are forwards Jayden Mrakic, a 2000-birth-year from the city along with Carson Gorst, a 2002, who hails from Calgary, Alta.

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