Superior International Junior Hockey League

Last updated
Superior International Junior
Hockey League
Current season or competition:
Hockey current event.svg2019–20 SIJHL season
Superior International Junior A.jpg
Region(s) Northwestern Ontario
Minnesota
Wisconsin
CommissionerDarrin Nicholas
Director of OfficiatingScott Wrigley
Founded2001
No. of teams6
Associated Title(s) Centennial Cup
Dudley Hewitt Cup
Recent Champions Thunder Bay North Stars (2018-19)
Most successful club Thunder Bay North Stars (6)
Headquarters Thunder Bay, Ontario
Website SIJHL

The Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) is a junior A ice hockey league and a member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) and Hockey Canada. The league operates in the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Winners of the SIJHL playoffs compete for the Dudley Hewitt Cup against the winners of the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. The winner of the Dudley Hewitt Cup then moves on to compete for the Centennial Cup, the Canadian Junior A championship.

Contents

History

Background

North Stars Sean Bassingthwaite battles with Fort Frances player (2008) Fort William North Stars Sean Bassingthwaite.jpg
North Stars Sean Bassingthwaite battles with Fort Frances player (2008)

Founded in 2001, the SIJHL is successor of several former Thunder Bay junior A hockey leagues and teams. The Fort William War Veterans were the first representatives of the Thunder Bay region, winning the 1922 Memorial Cup as Canadian National Junior A Champions. [1] Although there is not abundant information on the subject, the Thunder Bay Junior Hockey League may date back to the War Veterans and existed until 1980. From 1980 until 2000, the region (Hockey Northwestern Ontario) was represented by a single team at the junior A level: the Thunder Bay Flyers. The Flyers played their regular season games in the United States Hockey League (USHL), a USA Hockey junior A league, and returned to Canada for the playoffs. The Flyers won the Dudley Hewitt Cup as Central Canadian Junior Champions in 1989, 1991, 1992, and 1995. [2] The Flyers were also National Champions in 1989 and 1992, winning the Centennial Cup. [3] The Flyers folded after the 1999–2000 USHL Season. [4]

Diesels captain Reilly Miller (2007) Schreiber Diesels Reilly Miller.jpg
Diesels captain Reilly Miller (2007)

The Northwestern Ontario region has also been represented in the past in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. From 1968 until 1982, the city of Kenora, Ontario, was represented by the Kenora Muskies/Thistles and in the mid-1980s, [5] Thunder Bay had an entry with the Thunder Bay Hornets. [6]

The folding of the Thunder Bay Flyers led to the rebirth of junior A hockey in the Thunder Bay region. The league started under the "Superior International" label in 2001 with five teams, including the Dryden Ice Dogs, First Nation Featherman Hawks, Fort Frances Borderland Thunder, Thunder Bay Bulldogs, and the Thunder Bay Wolves. [7]

2006 Dudley Hewitt Cup

In 2006, the Fort William North Stars won the Dudley Hewitt Cup with a 7–6 overtime win over the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League's Sudbury Jr. Wolves to earn the team and the league its first regional title and its first shot at the national title in the 2006 Royal Bank Cup. [8] The North Stars were eliminated in the Royal Bank Cup semifinal in Brampton, Ontario, with a 3–2 overtime loss to the British Columbia Hockey League's Burnaby Express led by eventual NHL player Kyle Turris.

Expansion and retraction

The presence of the SIJHL in Northwestern Ontario marks the first time since the 1970s that the region has effectively supported a junior hockey league. In 2007, the SIJHL expanded east of Thunder Bay with the Schreiber Diesels [9] and Marathon Renegades. [10] A Wawa, Ontario, franchise was also in the works, but never came to fruition. [11]

2011 Action - Fort Frances vs. Sioux Lookout Flyers vs. Lakers.jpg
2011 Action - Fort Frances vs. Sioux Lookout

On December 17, 2007, the Schreiber Diesels folded mid-season claiming lack of fan support. On December 21, the team was bought by a group of local fans in an effort to keep the Diesels alive. [12] The Marathon Renegades at one point were as high as third place in the SIJHL during the 2007–08 season, but after 37 games played were forced to cancel the rest of its season citing a lack of players through injuries and player defections to other leagues. Al Cresswell, team president, claimed that the shortage of players had become a health risk.

Although the 2008–09 season did not see a return to Marathon, the SIJHL did add the Sioux Lookout Flyers. In the 2008 off-season, the Thunder Bay Bulldogs elected to retract to embolden the Thunder Bay Bearcats. [13] Despite a strong year from the Bearcats and the Schreiber Diesels, both teams elected to cease operation in the summer of 2009. The Fort Frances Jr. Sabres claimed that they would be back for 2009–10, but their owners sold the rights to their players to teams across Canada. In a last-ditch effort, the town of Fort Frances bought the team and renamed them the Fort Frances Lakers, but were forced to find all new players due to the actions of the previous ownership. The Thunder Bay Wolverines elected to apply for promotion to the SIJHL for 2009–10 fresh off of their silver medal performance at the Keystone Cup Canadian Jr. B Championships. [14] [15] Back up to five teams, the SIJHL also made a 20-game interleague setup with the Minnesota Junior Hockey League's Wisconsin Mustangs to diversify the league's competition. [16]

Tenth season and American expansion

The 2010–11 season was the tenth season of the SIJHL. The SIJHL received applications for expansion by two American teams: the Duluth Clydesdales and Wisconsin Mustangs.

In June, the Thunder Bay Wolverines pulled out of the SIJHL. A few days later USA Hockey rejected the transfer bid by the Wisconsin Mustangs to join the SIJHL and the expansion bid of the potential of Duluth, Minnesota, despite approval by Hockey Canada and the SIJHL. The league sat at four teams. [17] The two teams appealed the decision and won, officially giving the league six teams and making the league an international league. [17]

The Fort William North Stars were dominant early in 2010–11, but due to financial difficulties, the team was sold to new ownership and became the Thunder Bay North Stars. The Wisconsin Wilderness jumped into the lead mid-season and won the regular season and playoff titles in their first season in the league.

In the summer of 2011, the SIJHL elected to expand with the Iron Range Ironheads awaiting the permission of USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey. USA Hockey again denied the league. The decision was appealed and on July 12, 2011, expansion was allowed by USA Hockey as well as the continuation of the Duluth and Spooner franchises. Wisconsin won their second straight league title, coming from behind in the final to beat the Fort Frances Lakers in seven games.

The 2012–13 season was a season of decline for the league's American expansion. During the off-season, USA Hockey allowed the league to transfer Iron Range to new ownership and rename it the Minnesota Iron Rangers. Wisconsin was sold and relocated into the same market as Duluth and renamed the Minnesota Wilderness. Three games into the season, the Sioux Lookout Flyers ceased operations and eventually their franchise when a scandal over the carding of players by their new general manager and coach left them without enough players to continue. In early 2013, the league, after multiple cancelled games, stripped the Duluth Clydesdales of their franchise. Then, after clinching their third regular season and playoff crowns, the Wilderness won the league's second ever Dudley Hewitt Cup as Central Canadian champions. Minnesota Wilderness became the first American team to win the Dudley Hewitt Cup and the first to gain berth into the Royal Bank Cup Canadian Junior A Championship. After winning the Central Canadian Championship, it was announced that the Wilderness would leave the SIJHL at the end of the Royal Bank Cup to join the North American Hockey League, a USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II league. The Wilderness finished fourth in the National Championship round-robin, earning a berth into the semi-final. Despite leading 4–2 in the third, the Wilderness took too many penalties and lost their lead with seconds to go in the third period. The Alberta Junior Hockey League's Brooks Bandits scored in overtime to win the game 5–4 eliminating the Wilderness. With the Wilderness and Clydesdales gone, the Minnesota Iron Rangers were the remaining American team with membership in the league.

In the spring of 2013, the SIJHL announced expansion to Ear Falls, Ontario, with the English River Miners and on July 11, 2013, admitted a new team in Spooner, Wisconsin, also called the Wisconsin Wilderness. [18] The new Wilderness lasted one season.

In the summer of 2014, commissioner and president Ron Whitehead was relieved of his post. Whitehead held his position from 2005 until 2014 and had been a member of the league executive since its inception in 2001. In 2011, Hockey Northwestern Ontario named Whitehead their Central Zone volunteer of the year. [19]

The league added a second team in Minnesota and their sixth franchise for 2016–17 season with the Thief River Falls Norskies. In 2019, the league added another team in Spooner, Wisconsin, called the Wisconsin Lumberjacks for the 2019–20 season. After several seasons of ownership issues and lack of player recruitment, the Minnesota Iron Rangers ceased operations for the 2019–20 season, returning the league to six teams. [20]

Teams

TeamCentreArenaJoined
Dryden Ice Dogs Dryden, Ontario Dryden Memorial Arena2001
Fort Frances Lakers Fort Frances, Ontario Fort Frances Memorial Sports Center2007
Red Lake Miners Red Lake, Ontario Cochenour Arena2013
Thief River Falls Norskies Thief River Falls, Minnesota Ralph Engelstad Arena 2016
Thunder Bay North Stars Thunder Bay, Ontario Fort William Gardens 2001
Wisconsin Lumberjacks Spooner, Wisconsin Spooner Civic Center 2019

Future teams

TeamCentreArenaJoining
Kam River Fighting Walleye Thunder Bay, Ontario Thunder Bay Tournament Centre2020

Former member teams

TeamCentreJoinedLeftStatus
Duluth Clydesdales Duluth, Minnesota 20102013Membership revoked
Fort Frances Borderland Thunder Fort Frances, Ontario 20012005Folded
Marathon Renegades Marathon, Ontario 20062008Folded
Minnesota Iron Rangers Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota 20112019Suspended
Minnesota Wilderness Cloquet, Minnesota 20102013Left for NAHL
Schreiber Diesels Schreiber, Ontario 20052009Folded
Sioux Lookout Flyers Sioux Lookout, Ontario 20082012Folded
Thunder Bay Bearcats Thunder Bay, Ontario 20012009Folded
Thunder Bay Bulldogs Thunder Bay, Ontario 20012008Merged with Bearcats
Thunder Bay Wolverines Thunder Bay, Ontario 20092010Folded
Wisconsin Wilderness Spooner, Wisconsin 20132014Folded

Former interleague teams

Bill Salonen Cup champions

Bill Salonen Cup Bill Salonen Cup Editted.png
Bill Salonen Cup

The winners of the SIJHL Playoffs are awarded the Bill Salonen Cup. Although the Jack Adams Trophy is supposed to be awarded to the branch Junior A champion, Hockey Northwestern Ontario will not bring it out unless there are two leagues vying for the branch championship. [21]

YearChampionFinalist
2002Dryden Ice Dogs Fort Frances Borderland Thunder
2003Fort Frances Borderland Thunder Thunder Bay Bulldogs
2004Fort William North Stars Dryden Ice Dogs
2005Fort William North Stars Fort Frances Borderland Thunder
2006Fort William North Stars Dryden Ice Dogs
2007Schreiber Diesels Fort William North Stars
2008Dryden Ice Dogs Fort William North Stars
2009Fort William North Stars Thunder Bay Bearcats
2010Fort William North Stars Dryden Ice Dogs
2011Wisconsin Wilderness Dryden Ice Dogs
2012Wisconsin Wilderness Fort Frances Lakers
2013Minnesota Wilderness Fort Frances Lakers
2014Fort Frances Lakers Minnesota Iron Rangers
2015Fort Frances Lakers Dryden Ice Dogs
2016Fort Frances Lakers Dryden Ice Dogs
2017Dryden Ice Dogs English River Miners
2018Dryden Ice Dogs Thunder Bay North Stars
2019Thunder Bay North Stars Red Lake Miners
2020Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Dudley Hewitt Cup

YearChampionFinalistHost
2006 Fort William North Stars Sudbury Jr. Wolves (NOJHL) Thunder Bay, Ontario
2013 Minnesota Wilderness St. Michael's Buzzers (OJHL) North Bay, Ontario
Dudley Hewitt Cup - Regional Championship, competed for by SIJHL champions since 2001. Won in 2006 and 2013. Dudley Hewitt Cup.png
Dudley Hewitt Cup - Regional Championship, competed for by SIJHL champions since 2001. Won in 2006 and 2013.

Single-season team records

Timeline of teams in the SIJHL

2001–02
2002–03
2003–04
2005–06
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
2011–12
2012–13
2013–14
2014–15
2016–17
2018–19
2019–20

Related Research Articles

Ontario Junior Hockey League

The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) is a Junior A ice hockey league in Ontario, Canada. It is under the supervision of the Ontario Hockey Association and the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The league dates back to 1954 as the Central Junior B Hockey League. In 1993, the Central Junior B Hockey League was promoted to the Junior A level and renamed the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League. In 2009, the league was dissolved by the Ontario Hockey Association and split into two leagues: the Central Canadian Hockey League and the Ontario Junior A Hockey League. By early 2010, the two leagues merged to reform the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Dudley Hewitt Cup

The Dudley Hewitt Cup is a championship ice hockey trophy awarded to the Central Canadian Junior A Champion. The trophy is currently decided by round robin tournament format, at the conclusion of the playoffs of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, and Superior International Junior Hockey League, to determine the central seed to the Centennial Cup, the national Junior A championship. The Royal Bank Cup is the Canadian National Junior A Championship and is only competed for by teams within the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

Dryden Ice Dogs junior ice hockey team in Dryden, Ontario, Canada

The Dryden Ice Dogs are a junior A ice hockey team from Dryden, Ontario, Canada. They are a part of the Superior International Junior Hockey League.

Schreiber Diesels

The Schreiber Diesels were a Junior "A" ice hockey team from Schreiber, Ontario, Canada. They were a part of the Superior International Junior Hockey League.

The Port Arthur Marrs were a junior ice hockey team that played in Port Arthur, Ontario. They were named for trucking company and sponsor W.H. Marr, Ltd., and contested the 1967 Memorial Cup, which they lost to the Toronto Marlboros.

Minnesota Wilderness

The Minnesota Wilderness are an American Tier II junior ice hockey team based in Cloquet, Minnesota, and play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The organization formerly fielded teams in the Canada-based Junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League for three seasons and in the American-based Tier III Minnesota Junior Hockey League.

Fort Frances Borderland Thunder

The Borderland Thunder are a defunct Junior "A" ice hockey team from Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada. They were a part of the Superior International Junior Hockey League.

Duluth Clydesdales

The Duluth Clydesdales were an American Junior ice hockey team based in Duluth, Minnesota. They are former members of the Canadian-based Superior International Junior Hockey League.

The 2010–11 SIJHL season was the 10th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The six teams of the SIJHL played 56-game schedules.

The 2009–10 SIJHL season is the 9th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The six teams of the SIJHL will play 52-game schedules, except for Wisconsin who will play a 20-game schedule.

The 2008–09 SIJHL season is the 8th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The six teams of the SIJHL will play 50-game schedules.

The 2007–08 SIJHL season is the 7th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The seven teams of the SIJHL will play 50-game schedules.

The 2011–12 SIJHL season is the 11th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The seven teams of the SIJHL will play 56-game schedules.

The 2011–12 OJHL season is the 18th season of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and the second since the league existed as two separate bodies in 2009–10. The twenty-seven teams of the North, South, East and West Divisions will play 49-game schedules.

Wisconsin Wilderness

The Wisconsin Wilderness were an American Junior ice hockey team based in Spooner, Wisconsin. The Wilderness played in the Canadian-based Superior International Junior Hockey League.

The 2012–13 SIJHL season was the 12th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The seven teams of the SIJHL were to play 56-game schedules.

The 2013 Royal Bank Cup was the 43rd Junior "A" ice hockey National Championship for the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The 2013 Royal Bank Cup marks the 43rd consecutive year a national championship has been awarded to this skill level since the breakaway of Major Junior hockey in 1970.

The 2013–14 SIJHL season was the 13th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The seven teams of the SIJHL played 56-game schedules.

The 2014–15 SIJHL season is the 14th season of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). The five teams of the SIJHL will play 56-game schedules.

The 2015 Dudley Hewitt Cup was the 44th Central Canadian Jr A Ice Hockey Championship for the Canadian Junior Hockey League. The Winner of the 2015 Dudley Hewitt Cup will represent the central region in the 2015 Royal Bank Cup in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

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