The Keystone Cup tournament is coming back to Thunder Bay.
On Thursday, the Thunder Bay Fighting Walleye announced they will be hosts of the junior B hockey tournament. The event will be held April 23-26, 2020 at the Tournament Centre.
Fighting Walleye president Derek Geddes says his club is excited to have the opportunity to take the lead role this spring.
“It is a great honour that the (Lakehead Junior Hockey League) has entrusted us with hosting the Keystone Cup,” Geddes said in a news release. “We were fortunate enough to participate the last two years and we will use this experience to put on a first-class event. We are working with the Prairie and Capital Region leagues as well as the Keystone league to ensure Thunder Bay is treated to some incredible hockey.”
The Keystone Cup used to be called the Western Canadian championship and dated back to 1978. However, during the summer of 2017, leagues from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan pulled out due to travel concerns, leaving Manitoba and Northern Ontario to vie for the title. The 2018 event was held in Thunder Bay while the last season’s tournament was hosted by Peguis First Nation, Man.
The Thunder Bay-based Northern Hawks are the two-time defending champions after defeating the Walleye in the final last year. The Hawks also beat the Walleye in the LJHL final.
Geddes said a Saskatchewan rep may return to the tournament, along with another league from Manitoba.
Ticket package information and more news will be announced in the coming weeks, according the Walleye.
The Fighting Walleye’s main tryout camp begins on Aug. 28. Players ages 16-21 that are interested may sign up at www.thunderbayfightingwalleye.com.
The LJHL regular season gets underway in the fall. The Hawks and Walleye will again be joined by the Schreiber Filane’s Falcons and the Nipigon Elks.
The Thunder Bay Kings AAA midgets played a partial schedule last season, but will not be back to focus more of their time on the North American Prospects League, according to Geddes.