Road trips along rugged highways to games and tournaments are a fact of life for minor hockey teams in Northern Ontario towns such as Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Kapuskasing, New Liskeard, Thunder Bay, etc. Then there is Moose Factory.
Earlier this season, the Moose Factory Attack — a minor hockey team of nine and 10 year old kids from the James Bay coast that includes Moose Cree, Moose Cree First Nation, Moosonee and Moose Factory — travelled by helicopter, then train and then in cars to get to a tournament in New Liskeard.
“It’s a two mile helicopter ride and that takes three or four minutes,” said Moose Factory’s head coach, Brenden Biedermann. “From there, we go to the train station and ride on the train for five hours. Then we get to Cochrane, that’s where we connect to the rest of the country via road … New Liskeard from Cochrane, it’s about a two hour drive.”
And not only are the road trips far from average, even by Northern Ontario standards, there is the added cost.
“We’re having to spend two extra nights in a hotel room, that’s two extra days of eating out,” said Biedermann. “For our team, we spent an additional $1,300 on the helicopter and another $1,300 on the train. So, just to go to a tournament costs us an extra $2,600 and that doesn’t include the hotel rooms.”
Even while at home, methods of travelling to games and practices varies, depending on the weather in Moose Factory.
“Before all the ice and snow came, we were travelling with a frontier canoe across the river,” said the 35-year old Biedermann, a Moose Factory native who left home at a young age to play for the Kapuskasing Flyers of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League before becoming a star forward over five seasons in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League with the erstwhile Rayside Balfour Sabercats and the then-named Sudbury Northern Wolves. “We have also travelled by snow machine and toboggan.”
— with files from Jaime McKee/CTV News Northern Ontario