Around the SIJHL: July update



Release Date: Friday, July 14, 2017

Around the SIJHL: July update

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – With just over two months until the start of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s 2017-18 season, the SIJHL and each of its member clubs are building towards the upcoming campaign.

SCHEDULE: The announcement of the SIJHL 2017-18 regular season schedule is just days away.

Once again, this season, each of the six teams in the league will play a 56-game slate.

All squads will play 27 times at home, another 27 on the road as well as a pair of contests at the SIJHL Showcase, which will count towards the regular season standings.

The location of that event is also set to be announced shortly.

Regular season action will commence in the third week of September and conclude by mid-March.

COMMITMENTS: The SIJHL commitment list to play collegiate or university hockey in Canada or the U.S. starting in the fall continues to grow.

In July to date three more SIJHLers confirmed that they will continue their education as well as continue their hockey careers raising the current total of commits to 20.

Those players are Dryden GM Ice Dogs defenceman Colton Sandboe, Fort Frances Lakers D-man Brandon Zajicek and Thief River Falls Norskies forward Tommy Stang who are off to NCAA D-III programs Morrisville State (SUNYAC), Curry College (ECAC Northeast) and St. Mary’s (MIAC) respectively.

More information on all three commitments can be found in the respective Team-By-Team information portion of this update.

To view the current list of league commitments of those who competed in the SIJHL during the 2016-17 season visit

NHL DEVELOPMENT CAMP: Former SIJHL Rookie of the Year Cole Tymkin was a free agent invitee to attend the Dallas Stars NHL Development Camp that wrapped up last week in Frisco, Texas.

The SIJHL’s top rookie during the 2015-16 campaign with the Fort Frances Lakers, spent this past season in the OHL with the London Knights.

In 49 games played, Tymkin led all SIJHL rookies in offensive production with 48 points on 15 goals and 33 assists.

DUDLEY-HEWITT CUP: The SIJHL’s Dryden GM Ice Dogs continue to prepare to host for the 2018 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 1-5, at Dryden’s Memorial Arena.

The five-day event will feature the respective champions of the SIJHL, the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey League taking part as well as the host GM Ice Dogs.

Should Dryden repeat as Bill Salonen Cup titlists, then the SIJHL finalist would round out the four-team field.

The last SIJHL host side that went on to win the Dudley-Hewitt Cup and advance to the RBC Cup was the 2006 Fort William North Stars.

RBC CUP: Awaiting the Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner will be the 2018 RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 12-20, in Chilliwack, B.C.

The Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL will host the nationals and they will be joined by the winners of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup and Fred Page Cup (Eastern Canada) as well as two representatives from Western Canada.


DRYDEN GM ICE DOGS: A couple of recent off-season transactions by the defending Bill Salonen Cup champion GM Ice Dogs has resulted in some roster moves.

The club has acquired ‘ 97 D Brendan Jay from the Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) in exchange for the CJHL playing rights of ‘ 98 D Garett Giertuga.

Dryden also recently picked up ‘ 98 D Dawson Bacon from the Dauphin Kings (MJHL) for ‘ 97 F Mark Ziobro.

As for the NCAA commitment of Colton Sandboe to Morrisville State College for the upcoming school year, he’ll be joining a program that competes out of the State University of New York Athletic Conference.

The 21-year old Grande Prairie, Alta., product was acquired by the GM Ice Dogs in January from the Espanola Express (NOJHL).

In 17 regular season games with the Dryden, Sandboe scored twice and doled out 13 assists 15 points.

He also chipped in with four assists in the playoffs helping his side claim the SIJHL championship.

ENGLISH RIVER MINERS: The Miners will host their 2017 main training camp September 6-8 in Red Lake with their 23-25-man 2017-18 team roster being selected from this camp.

Unattached interested parties looking to attend the three-day camp are asked to contact head coach/general manager Derek Sweet-Coulter via email at or assistant GM Chris Pimblott at with any questions.

FORT FRANCE LAKERS: Fort Frances will also be holding their summer tryout camp this weekend at Broncos Arena in International Falls, Minn.

The three-day event gets underway Friday evening and runs through Sunday.

The latest Lakers’ NCAA commitment is blueliner Brandon Zajicek who is off to Curry College in Massachusetts.

Zajicek, who turns 21 Saturday, will be joining the Colonels men’s program that plays out of the ECAC Northeast Conference.

In 74 career SIJHL contests with the Lakers, the Albertville, Minn., product totalled 50 points, including 11 goals for Fort Frances. He also supplied nine playoff points in 15 postseason outings.

The Lakers are also welcoming back a familiar face to the coaching staff for 2017-18 as Chris Sinclair returns as an assistant coach after a one-year stint with the local Fort Frances Muskies high school program.

Sinclair will work along side head coach Wayne Strachan with the forwards and on power play systems and tactics.

A roster move this week saw Fort Frances deal goaltender Brandon Bodnar to the Thunder Bay North Stars for a player development fee.

“Brandon came to us in late May and asked if we could look at a possible trade to Thunder Bay so that he could start his post-secondary schooling and play out his last year of Junior eligibility,” offered Lakers’  head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan in discussing the move.

“We obviously hate to see Brandon leave as he was a big part of our success in winning the Bill Salonen Cup in 2015-16 and last year was a main reason we achieved getting to the semifinal round of the SIJHL playoffs,” added Strachan. “We wish him the best of luck and thank him for his time with the team.”

MINNESOTA IRON RANGERS: It’s just two weeks away until the Iron Rangers’ second tryout camp of the off-season.

That two-day event goes July 28-29 in Bemidji, Minn., while Minnesota’s main camp will go at the end of August.

The organization has also solidified it staff under newly minted head coach and general manager Todd Kreibich by naming Garrett Hendrickson as an assistant coach.

Hendrickson joins the Iron Rangers after graduating from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., in May where he had 71 points in 100 career games with the Cobbers and served as team captain for the 2016-17 season.

His junior hockey career includes time playing with the Penticton Vees and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the BCHL as well as the Coulee Region Chill of the NAHL.

Before playing Jr. Hendrickson played high school hockey in Virginia, Minn., for the Blue Devils.

He is currently the 16th all-time leading point scorer in Minnesota High School Hockey history and was a member of two state high school hockey teams.

Hendrickson will be working closely with the forwards on skill development and will be breaking down video with the players to help them learn the game.

He has jumped right in and is helping Minnesota head coach and general manager Todd Kreibich with recruiting.

“Garrett has a good eye for recognizing players that have talent and the ability to be coached; two of the things we are looking for on the recruiting trail,” added Kreibich.

THIEF RIVER FALLS NORSKIES: Thief River Falls will be holding a two-day mini camp August 12-13 in Maple Grove, Minn.

In opting to forego his final year of  Jr. A eligibility to attend St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, Stang departs Thief River Falls after a strong season in the SIJHL.

In 42 games this past season the 20-year-old from St. Paul, Minn., averaged nearly a point-per-game for the Norskies with 38 in 42 contests.

Stang scored 15 times and also added 23 assists along the way.

He also supplied a team-high six points in the playoffs on a pair of tallies and four helpers.

The St. Mary’s Cardinals are members of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“Tommy was a true leader and a competitor,” stated Thief River Falls general manger Kevin McCallum.

“It will be tough to replace him, but he felt it was the best time for him to move on and we supported him in this decision and wish him the best of luck,” added McCallum the SIJHL’s CCM Hockey First Team All-Star at GM in 2016-17.

THUNDER BAY NORTH STARS: Under new head coach Rob Degagne the North Stars will hold their team tryouts beginning August 18-20 at Current River Arena in Thunder Bay.

With the acquisition of goaltender Brandon Bodnar from the Fort Frances Lakers, Thunder Bay picks up a netminder that boasts a career record of 28-14-2-2 in the SIJHL.

Bodnar also boasts a 2.57 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage along with three shutouts.