What’s in a hockey team nickname?
The owners of a new franchise that is slated to debut in the Superior International Jr. Hockey League a year from now — the 2022-2023 season — chose its name to salute those who strive to keep the Sioux Lookout area safe from wildfires.
Thus, the naming of the Sioux Lookout Bombers, who recently gained entry into the SIJHL effective the 2022-2023 campaign.
Matt Cairns is one of four owners of the new Sioux Lookout franchise and noted that they selected the name Bombers to “honour the hard working Ministry of Natural Resources and forestry fire crews who spend every day to help keep us safe from wildfires. The name recognizes the important role that the MNR plays in the Sioux Lookout area and all of northwestern Ontario.”
Besides Cairns, the all-local ownership group of the new Sioux Lookout franchise includes Joe Cassidy, Austen Hoey and Christine Hoey.
As a league, the SIJHL will be celebrating its 20th season of existence during the upcoming, 2021-2022 campaign. The SIJHL is led by commissioner Darrin Nicholas, who was only appointed to his position a year ago and then had to lead the league through a trying 2020-2021 campaign that was severely shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Nicholas has not been sitting idle as he visions the future of the SIJHL, which has a current membership of seven teams including the Thunder Bay North Stars, Red Lake Miners, Fort Frances Lakers, Dryden Ice Dogs, Kam River Fighting Walleye and two American entries — the Wisconsin Lumberjacks and the Minnesota based Thief River Falls Norskies.
Kam River gained membership into the SIJHL in 2020 as the league’s seventh team.
And beyond Sioux Lookout joining the SIJHL in 2022 as its eighth entry, the league is looking to expand further to hopefully have 10 teams in total.
“We are looking to aggressively expand over the next few seasons for sure,” Nicholas told Hockey News North. “I am primarily focused now on communities within our existing footprint so as not to adversely impact travel and operational cost to our teams.
“But we will have to expand our territory eventually,” Nicholas added.
While Nicholas did not say what towns the SIJHL is looking at as potential future sites, sources have told Hockey News North that the northwestern Ontario towns of Terrace Bay and Kenora are possibilities, as is Virginia, Minnesota.