There are committed returning players and incoming skaters who have signed up — with room to still add to the roster.
Indeed, the part owner and general manager of the Kam River Fighting Walleye of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League likes the promising look of the second year franchise ahead of the 2021-2022 season.
Among the returnees to Kam River are goalie Eric Vanska, defenseman Brad Fortier and forwards Tyler Ralph, Christian Veneruzzo, Ethan Lang and Trenton Morriseau.
Newcomers include seasoned veterans acquired via summer trades with teams from other leagues, namely defenseman Zachary Fortin and forward Brendan Murray.
Fortin was obtained from the Timmins Rock of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. Besides having played parts of two seasons in Timmins, Fortin also has the experience of 68 games with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League.
Meanwhile, Murray was picked up by Kam River from the Yarmouth Mariners of the Maritime Hockey League.
Of note, Vanska, Fortier, Veneruzzo, Morriseau and Fortin are all Thunder Bay products.
The outlook for the coming season is positive.
To be sure, Fighting Walleye part owner and general manager Kevin McCallum is looking forward to Kam River’s first full term in the SIJHL after playing in only four regular season games in 2020-2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are extremely excited about the upcoming season,” McCallum told Hockey News North. “With so many eligible to return and the hard work of our hockey operations staff and scouting staff I am anticipating an extremely competitive (August) camp and pre season.”
McCallum added that he is of the notion that the Fighting Walleye is primed for a good season ahead.
“With our trades and players who have committed we believe we will be competitive in the league and push for a deep run. With the Dudley Hewitt Cup being hosted in our league it would be amazing to be able to attend,” McCallum said of the annual year end, Central Canada championship tournament that includes a host entry as well as champs from the SIJHL, the NOJHL and the Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
The SIJHL is poised to begin the 2021-2022 season with seven teams including Kam River. The others are the Dryden Ice Dogs, Fort Frances Lakers, Red Lake Miners, Thunder Bay North Stars, Thief River Falls Norskies and Wisconsin Lumberjacks.
Thief River, which is based in Minnesota, and Wisconsin are the league’s two American teams.
Sioux Lookout Bombers are expected to join the SIJHL for the 2022-2023 season.