They finished in first place in their first full season in the Superior International Jr. Hockey League before losing in the playoff championship series. They again placed first in their second season and then capped it off by winning the SIJHL championship. And now, in season no. 3 as members of the SIJHL, the Kam River Fighting Walleye has continued its winning ways.
The winning tradition began in 2021-2022, which was the debut season in the SIJHL for the Fighting Walleye. A regular season record of 35-7-2 was good enough for a first place finish for the Fighting Walleye. But a quest for a championship as a first year franchise ended for the Fighting Walleye in the finals when it was upended by the veteran-laden Red Lake Miners in a thrilling six game set.
On to the 2022-2023 campaign and it was another first place finish for Kam River, which fashioned a record of 40-11-2. The Fighting Walleye again moved along the playoff trail to the finals and this time it ended in victory for Kam River, which ousted its cross-town rival Thunder Bay North Stars in an epic series that went to a seventh and deciding game.
Now, here we are, the 2023-2024 regular season and the winning has continued for the Fighting Walleye, which has a record of 11-2-0 through its first 13 games on the schedule and is in first place in the eight-team SIJHL.
Architects of the Fighting Walleye winner’s circle have been general manager Kevin McCallum and assistant GM Bryan Smeltzer, both of who have been with Kam River since Day One.
And it is worth noting that the Fighting Walleye has had its success to date with three head coaches in as many seasons. First it was Matt Valley, then it was Geoff Walker and now it is Jesse Messier as the Kam River bench boss.
Notably, the Fighting Walleye continues to be high achievers by relying in a big way on homegrown products from the Thunder Bay Area.
In fact, Kam River’s top four scorers thus far this season are all local area lads. Ryan Doucette leads the Kam River scoring chart with five goals, 11 assists, 16 points. Up next is 16-year old rookie sensation Carter Poddubny with nine goals, six assists, 15 points. Then it is Jeremy Dunmore with 7-8-15 totals and Jett Mintenko with 7-7-14 numbers.