Some love for Iroquois Falls

Randy Russon
April 14, 2017

Iroquois Falls has served the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League well for almost 20 years. Perhaps now the NOJHL can show some love to the little town that loves hockey.

Since entering the NOJHL in 1999, Iroquois Falls has annually been at or near the top of the league attendance board despite being a small market franchise with a population of about 4,500.

But for the first time since 1999, Iroquois Falls faces the prospect of there being no junior hockey in town once the first puck drops on the 2017-2018 season.

Despite averaging 346 fans per game in 2016-2017 — third best in the 12-team NOJHL — the Iroquois Falls franchise has been sold and moved 180 miles away to Hearst, a remote town of about 5,000 residents.

So for now — and with the NOJHL maxed out at 12 teams — junior hockey is gone from Iroquois Falls and its stately, jewel-of-a-facility, the venerable Jus Jordan Arena, aka the Igloo.

But even though it won’t have the Eskis to cheer for come the ’17-18 season, Iroquois Falls figures to play host to at least a few games at the Igloo.

Good guy Ryan Leonard, who is the owner, general manager and coach of the nearby Cochrane Crunch, told that he plans to play “a couple” of home games in Iroquois Falls next season.

Which would at least be a start.

And perhaps if the Timmins Rock and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners would step up and each play a few home games at the Igloo next season, the good hockey folks of Iroquois Falls would have something to look forward to next winter.

One would think that Timmins owes Iroquois Falls at least a few games. After all, over many years when Timmins was without an NOJHL team, Iroquois Falls scheduled a number of home games for its neighbour town.

To be sure, Cochrane, Timmins and Kirkland Lake are all within an easy driving distance of Iroquois Falls. Cochrane is 31 miles away, Timmins is 45 miles away and Kirkland Lake is 67 miles away.

There is also the fact that Iroquois Falls out-drew both Cochrane and Kirkland Lake over the course of the ’16-17 season. As the Eskis averaged 346 fans per game, Kirkland Lake averaged 297 and Cochrane averaged 276.

A nice scenario would see Cochrane, Timmins and Kirkland Lake all agreeing to play two to four home games apiece in Iroquois Falls next season. As in, let’s show a long-time supporter and good friend of the NOJHL some love.

PHOTO: Inside Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls.

What you think about “Some love for Iroquois Falls”

  1. Thanks Randy . . . you’re right on as always. May I ask a question (admittedly based out of ignorance). Travel is difficult for many NOJHL teams . . . for Hearst to have to schedule trips to Sault, Michigan and Sault, Ontario, is a financial nightmare. Why doesn’t Kapuskasing have a team? Why doesn’t New Liskeard have a team? I find it difficult to believe there would be no fan support in either community. If that were to happen, the NOJHL could have a Northern Division with teams from New Liskeard to Hearst, and a southern division encompassing the remaining teams along the Hwy 17 corridor. Any ideas, fellow fans???

    1. Yes R R I agree with all you said, but take for install a Fan that purchase a season ticket for the Rocks and now you tell him that he has to go to Iroquois Falls to see the game and he has no transportation or does not want to spend the extra dollar.

      I would suggest the League find a Team that are struggling with Fan support & encourage them to move to Iroquois Falls.

  2. North Div

    French River
    Rayside Balfour

    Soo TBirds
    Soo Eagles
    Blind River
    Elliot Lake


    1. If the NOJHL had a South Division, it would include former league members Parry Sound Shamrocks, who left the league for the OPJHL in 1999. I am adamant junior hockey will return to Iroquois Falls for the 2017-18 season. It’s only been a week since the news of the Eskis moving to Iroquois Falls was released. Like I mentioned before, maybe the French River Rapids will move up to Iroquois Falls.

  3. It would be very nice to see any team use our beautiful ice facility! Thanks for keeping our small town in mind 🙂

  4. Well it looks like the French River Rapids aren’t going to take the ice surface in Iroquois Falls after hiring Sherwood Bassin. I’m really hoping a team will set up shop in Iroquois Falls.

        1. Same Randy but at Dudley all expenses Paid, travelling , Motels ,Bus etc…

          Best is to find a Team wanting to move at this best facility in the North.

  5. This is what I have been thinking of but I would only be able to wish for it. I know Mr Leonard of the Crunch likes our rink and it would be great for a few matches, but getting a team to check into the vacant room left behind by Mr Donnan is preferred. Failing that I am ready to sign up to be a Crunch Fan. I love th spirit at the Tim, and it is a 15 minute longer drive to get there. Thank you Randy for suggesting this, I hope the local teams think about throwing the dog a bone to gnaw on.

  6. It would be a great start RR…..I still believe in time, with the right people in place we will see hockey at the Igloo .

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