By John Payetta, L.U. Sports
THUNDER BAY, Ont. — The Lakehead Thunderwolves of the OUA were scheduled to take on the Nipissing Lakers in the annual Christmas Challenge, but after Nipissing backed out on Sunday due to issues with their aircraft charter company cancelling their flight, the Thunder Bay North Stars of the Superior International Junior Hockey League stepped up to make sure that fans in Thunder Bay have hockey to watch during the holidays.
With Nipissing unable to make alternate travel arrangements during the busy holiday travel season, an unfortunate situation now offers a very intriguing opportunity.
“I’d like to thank North Stars’ president Scott Kellaway, head coach Rob Degagne and general manager Kris Kellaway for coming through,” said Lakehead Athletics Director Tom Warden.
“They’ve got a class organization and we thank them for helping us put this together so quickly. It says something about the Thunder Bay hockey community when things like this happen. I think it’s a great opportunity for the city and for both organizations.”
Warden added, “It will be interesting to see these two levels of hockey compete against each other. The North Stars and the SIJHL have been an excellent recruiting ground for us for many years. Daniel Del Paggio and Kyle Auger – two of our top players – are both products of the North Stars’ system and we’ve got a few other former North Stars on our roster as well.”
Their are currently nine SIJHL alumni on the Thunderwolves playing roster.
This includes 2013-14 league MVP Del Paggio and 2018-19 Top Defenceman Award recipient Auger.
The Christmas Challenge, now the battle of Thunder Bay, will take place at the Fort William Gardens on December 29-30 with the opening face-off set for 7 p.m. on both nights.
Walk-up tickets are on sale now at the Gardens box office, and season-ticket holder tickets are valid for both games.
Photo credit: James Mirabelli