Back on the ice

Players work on drills as part of the Katie Weatherston Hockey School at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre this past week.

The ice has been broken in Thunder Bay. Friday marked the last day of week-long sessions for the Katie Weatherston Hockey School at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre.

Weatherston, a Thunder Bay native and 2006 Olympic women’s hockey gold medal winner, brings her professionally-run camp to her hometown every summer.

However, this year had some weight to it. Weatherston’s camp is the first hockey-related event in town since the COVID-19 pandemic dropped in mid March.

Weatherston and fellow instructor Malcolm Sutherland followed health restrictions to a tee. Only 16 players were allowed on the ice at a time for each 90-minute lesson (no dryland) for social distancing purposes.

Sutherland said they helped educate participants and parents on what hockey will look like in the near future.

This is an encouraging sign for plans on resuming minor hockey in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario this fall. I realize it’s a difficult time for parents, who are debating whether to send their kids to five-day-a-week school much less getting back to extra curricular activities such as sports.

Normalcy is nice. Normalcy as a result of safety measures and an eased mind is even better.

The Katie Weatherston Hockey School will set camp in Ottawa for the final two weeks of August.

WAIT AND SEE: On the heels of the Superior International Junior Hockey League announcing last week it will delay the start of its 2020-21 season to Nov. 14, the Lakehead Junior Hockey League is on the verge of following the same road.

LJHL president Josh Gribben said the former Thunder Bay junior B loop will move into action based on government legislation and restrictions.

He said Hockey Canada is not allowing any sanctioned activity until Sept. 14.

Meanwhile, the SIJHL’s newest kid on the block, the Kam River Fighting Walleye, are in search of interested billet/host families for the 2020-21 season. The team is expected to have their share of talent from outside of Thunder Bay that require accommodations while they play here. Contact Danielle Labelle at or633-7280.

BANDIT BALL: Best of luck to former Thunder Bay resident and basketball standout Kyle Julius, who is the coach and general manager of the Fraser Valley Bandits of the Canadian Elite Baseball League. The Bandits will meet the Edmonton Stingers today (12 p.m., CBC) in the final of the Summer Series championship.

Fraser Valley clipped the Hamilton Honey Badgers 76-75 in the semifinal on Saturday.

CBC Thunder Bay featured Julius in an interview on Friday. The 41-year-old Julius played high school basketball at Hammarskjold in the 1990s before moving on to Furman (NCAA) University and the University of Guelph (USports). Kyle’s father is former LU women’s hoops coach and athletic director Stu Julius. Stu is a senior advisor on the Bandits.

Prior to moving to British Columbia, Kyle Julius coached a team in the Taiwan pro league.

The seven-team CEBL is in its second season of operation. All seven teams are in St.Catharines, Ont., for their inaugural tournament.

Reuben Villagracia is the sports editor at The Chronicle-Journal. Contact him at

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