Hold a spot for Houlder.

Thunder Bay's Bill Houlder played in over 800 regular season games in the NHL. On Friday, he was announced as one of the latest inductees into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Toughness seems to have been the unintentional theme to this year’s Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame athlete inductees

On Friday, the hall announced the 2019 batch of new entries. Leading the pack is former Olympic boxer Trevor Stewardson and 11-year NHL veteran Bill Houlder.

They’ll be joined by two-time Grey Cup champion Dave Van Bellegham and Special Olympics powerlifter Paul Wragg.

The two builders rounding out this year’s inductees are Mike Furlong (organizer) and Lloyd Stansell (curling).

The 38th annual induction dinner will be held Sept. 28 at Thunder Bay’s Valhalla Inn.

All four of the athletes being inducted competed at the highest level in their chosen sports. Stewardson claimed multiple national titles throughout the 1990s, earned a bronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and represented Canada at the 1999 Pan Am Games and the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Wragg, a native of Atikokan, represented the region with distinction in powerlifting competing successfully at the 1998 Special Olympic Canada Summer Games, bringing home three gold medals from both the 1999 and 2003 Special Olympic World Summer Games and named Special Olympics Ontario 2000 Male Athlete of the Year.

A product of the Thunder Bay minor hockey system of the 1980s, Bill Houlder enjoyed a successful junior career with the North Bay Centennials and made his NHL debut in 1987 with the Washington Capitals.

Houlder went on to skate in 876 NHL regular season and playoff games with a variety of clubs before retiring with the Nashville Predators in 2003.

Kenora’s Van Belleghem enjoyed a successful football career that included national honours with the University of Calgary Dinos as 1988 Vanier Cup champions and two Grey Cups which he won in 1991 with the Toronto Argonauts and 1998 with the Calgary Stampeders.

Furlong dedicated himself to sports development in Dryden for over four decades serving as a coach, referee and organizer for such sports as hockey, football, gymnastics, swimming and skiing, as well as conducting coaching and certification clinics and serving on management teams for both Ontario and Canada Summer Games.

Considered a legend and innovator in the field of ice-making, Lloyd Stansell started his career at the Red Rock Recreation Centre in 1958 and has never looked back, going on to provide consultation to curling rinks all across the region.

Stansell has been called upon from the provincial to the world level, serving as an ice-technician at such events as the Brier, Scotties Tournament of Hearts and world championships.

Tickets for the induction dinner and ceremonies can be ordered by calling 622-2852 or via email at nwosport@tbaytel.net or dropping by the hall at 219 May Street South.

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