Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New champs, new leagues, new buildings

With a new year just around the corner, it’s intriguing to look back at the old year and see just how many new additions there were to the sporting landscape in Rainy River District.
From the first-time champions of Fort Frances’ premiere summertime event to the rebirth of women’s fastball after a decades-long slumber to the opening of a brand-new ice surface on Couchiching First Nation, the theme of 2013 revolved around fresh beginnings.

So raise your glass to the old year past and may 2014 be just as full as exciting beginnings and revolutionary thinking on the part of those that make sports go in the local area.
JANUARY
•Tirzah Keffer of Fort Frances and her rink of third Sheree Hinz, second Megan Westlund and lead Rachel Camlin win the Northern Ontario junior women’s curling championship in Sault Ste. Marie.
Her brother, Isaac Keffer, finishes second at the Northern Ontario junior men’s provincials in Kapuskasing.
•The organizing committee for the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship announce the event will return to the big tent by the Sorting Gap Marina after being at the Memorial Sports Centre for the previous three years.
•Connor Turk of Winnipeg defeats Anniss Seid of Fort Frances in the final of the Wes Derksen LLB Squash Open at the Memorial Sports Centre.
•Chris Silver of Fort Frances and his rink of third Reece Jones, second Jason Bazylewski and lead Kurt McGuire finish in first place with a 4-1 record at the regional playdowns in Stratton to qualify for the provincial Bantam men’s curling championships in Longlac.
•The Border Skating Club racks up more than two dozen top-three finishes at the regional skating figure championships in Dryden.
•Jeff Watts, Rick Stamarski and Toni Benning from Plaza Lanes qualify for the provincial bowling playdowns after their efforts at the Sunset Country Open roll-offs in Kenora.
FEBRUARY
•Adam Stromberg racks up seven gold medals to lead the Fort Frances Aquanaut Swim Club at the NWO regional championships in Thunder Bay.
•Tirzah Keffer finishes 3-6 in the women’s division at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Fort McMurray, AB. Later in the month, Keffer and her rink of former Muskie teammates Samantha Mueller, Taylor Hartlin and Carley Busch capture the the ‘A’ Side of the Fort Frances Curling Club’s annual ladies bonspiel for the third straight year with a 6-5 win over Christine Jean.
•Chris Silver ends up in a tie for fourth at the Northern Ontario Bantam boys provincial playdowns in Longlac with a 3-3 record.
•Emo native Luke Judson’s freshman year with the Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s hockey team ends with a 4-2 loss in the Ontario University Association quarter-finals against the Waterloo Warriors.
MARCH
•The Fort Frances Muskies girls and boys hockey teams and the Muskie senior and junior boys basketball teams win their respective versions of the Northland Cup, which replaced the NORWOSSA league championship for the year due to the labour dispute between the government of Ontario and teachers throughout the province regarding Bill 115.
•Tirzah Keffer is announced as the replacement for four-time Northwestern Ontario champion Krista McCarville on McCarville’s Thunder Bay-based rink after McCarville decides to step aside for the next competitive curling season to focus on her family and her teaching career.
•The Fort Frances Midget ‘AA’ Canadians finish their season by winning the Niagara Falls Championship Cup Midget 17-U title in Niagara Falls with a 3-2 shootout win over the Niagara Jr. Eagles.
•Kathie Jackson qualifies for the provincial playdowns of The Dominion Curling Club Championships by going 3-0 in the Region 1 women’s playdowns at the Fort Frances Curling Club.
•Jeff Watts finishes fourth in the men’s singles division at the Northern Ontario Open bowling championships in North Bay.
APRIL
•Cody Heyens of Stratton wraps up his collegiate curling career with Fanshawe College in London with a bronze medal at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national invitational tournament in Edmonton.
•Kathie Jackson’s rink wins the ladies ‘A’ title at the Fort Frances Curling Club and then captures the provincial title at The Dominion Curling Club Championships Northern Ontario playdowns in Sault Ste. Marie. Her husband, Lorne Jackson, and his rink claim the men’s ‘A’ title at the Fort Frances Curling Club.
•Muskie badminton player Taylor Whitehead qualifies for the OFSAA championships in boys’ singles in his Grade 9 season after going undefeated at the NORWOSSA and NWOSSAA playdowns.
•Fort Frances native Steve Arpin announces his plans to join the Global Rallycross Championship racing series later in the year.
•The La Place Rendez-Vous Voyageurs defeat Investors Group 84-76 to win the Fort Frances men’s basketball league championship.
•The Fort Frances Lakers defeat the Dryden Ice Dogs in seven games in the SIJHL semifinal, but lose the Bill Salonen Cup final in six games to the Minnesota Wilderness, including a dramatic 3-2 double overtime loss in the clinching game at the ‘52 Canadians Arena.
•Dig This wins the Fort Frances Women’s Volleyball League championship with a straight-sets victory over Scared Hitless.
MAY
•Taylor Whitehead finishes in fourth place in the boys’ ‘C’ Flight at the OFSAA badminton championships in Chatham.
•The Fort Frances Vipers girls volleyball team captures the Manitoba U16 Tier 2 provincial championship in Portage la Prairie, Man.
•Alina Eldridge leads all skaters with four honours at the Border Skating Club’s annual awards ceremony.
•The Ear Falls Eagles are announced as the newest SIJHL expansion team. The franchise later changes its name to the English River Miners.
•Local triathlon enthusiasts create the Fort Frances Triathlon Club.
•Oliver Gibbins of Morson and Les Morrison of Baudette, Minn., win the 2013 Emo Walleye Classic with a total catch of 20.16 pounds.
•Fit Lifestyle & Conditioning blanks Cater 2 U 4-0 to win the inaugural Borderland Indoor Women’s Soccer League championship.
•The Muskie boys soccer team wins its third consecutive NORWOSSA championship with a 2-1 win over the Beaver Brae Broncos from Kenora in Dryden to advance to the OFSAA ‘AA’ championships in Stratford.
•The Muskie track and field squad finishes eighth at the NWOSSAA championships in Thunder Bay, with Jenny Hammond earning a gold in the junior girls 800m final to pace the local side.
JUNE
•Women’s competitive fastball returned to the area for the first time in approximately 30 years with the kickoff of the inaugural Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League.
•The Muskie boys soccer team finishes 0-4 at the OFSAA championships.
•Jess Caul and Brandon Sinclair are named the Muskie female and male athletes of the year.
•Jamie Davis is named the new head coach of the Muskie boys hockey team.
•Emo native Luke Judson leaves the Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s hockey team and joins the San Francisco Bulls of the East Coast Hockey League.
•Fort native Scott Parsons reveals he will join the Winnipeg South Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for the upcoming season.
JULY
•The Fort’s Bryan Gustafson and teammate Jamie Bruce from Kenora win the “Castin’ for Cash” bass fishing tournament on Lake Despair with a two-day weight of 30.72 pounds.
•Fort natives Colton Spicer and Jon Carlson, along with Talor Joseph, are traded to the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in exchange for twin brothers Lyndon and Bryce Lipinski and a player development fee.
•Former Muskie Will Anderson announces he will join the Rainy River College Voyageurs men’s basketball team in the fall.
•Kenora’s Jeff Gustafson and John Peterson of Bemidji, Minn. capture the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship with a three-day total of 55.42 pounds.
•Fort Frances is named the final stop on the Kraft Celebration Tour after racking up 518,082 online votes—the most in the country this year—to defeat Dryden in their head-to-head showdown.
•Former NHL head coach Ted Nolan accompanies his son, Brandon, as an instructor at the younger Nolan’s youth hockey camp—the inaugural major event held at the brand-new Couchiching First Nation Arena.
AUGUST
•Devlin’s Bill Godin and partner Leroy Wilson of International Falls capture the Kenora Bass International tournament with a three-day total of 52.50 pounds.
•Former Fort resident Alex McDonald, now based in Winnipeg, wins the Kitchen Creek Classic by a huge seven strokes over Greg Tighe for his third victory at the event in four years.
•Maryam Seid scores twice and adds two assists as the La Place Rendez-Vous Voyageurs U18 squad whitewashes Boston Pizza 4-0 to win the Borderland Soccer League women’s division title.
•Mike Ohman notches the game-winner in the shootout as Senior Pharmasave sneaks past International Travel Services 4-3 to claim the Borderland Soccer League men’s division crown.
•Treaty #3 Police officer Tara Kelly of Onigaming First Nation competes in the saltwater angling competition at the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
•Fort Frances hosts the last stop of the “Kraft Celebration Tour,” with the highlight being TSN’s Jennifer Hedger and Darren Dutchyshen co-anchoring a live edition of TSN SportsCentre from the Sorting Gap Marina.
•Nathan Brigham and Brett Meyers of Emo win the International Falls Bass Classic with a two-day total of 33.85 pounds.
•Greg Ward is victorious at the Heron Landing Men’s Open golf tournament by one stroke voer Duluth’s Trent Sunblom.
•Christopher Leek of Emo (WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds), Ron Westover of Devlin (Street Stocks) and the Fort’s Gavin Paull (WISSOTA Modifieds) clinch their respective divisions at the conclusion of the Borderland Racing Association regular season.
•The Redgut Babes beat the Fort Frances Herricanes 11-3 to capture the Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League championship.
•The Big Grassy Braves defend their title in the Rainy River District Fastball League with an 8-1 victory over the Barwick Blue Knights in the final.
SEPTEMBER
•Jeff Gustafson and fellow Kenora resident Mike Reid take first place at the “Bassin’ For Bucks” tournament in Sioux Narrows with a three-day catch of 55.44 pounds.
•Vermilion Bay driver Bill Reimer, 67, dies from natural causes while competing in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds final during “Fan Appreciation Night” at Emo Speedway.
•The Fort Frances Triathlon Club hosts the inaugural “Splash and Dash” aquathlon on the shores and the roads around Rainy Lake.
•Former Fort Frances Laker Jaret LeClair and three others are remembered in a memorial pre-season game between the Lakers and the Thunder Bay North Stars held in Marathon.
•The Muskie football team begins the Winnipeg High School Football League season 2-0 for the first time in head coach Chad Canfield’s five years with the squad.
•Fort resident Angela Smith participates in the “Reach the Summits for Kids” fundraising hike through the Alberta Rockies to benefit Canadian Tire’s “Jumpstart” program.
•Bauer Hockey donates more than $25,000 worth of hockey equipment to the Fort Frances Atom ‘AA’ Canadians finishes second nationwide in a contest held as part of Bauer’s “Own the Moment” campaign.
•Muskie golfer Tyson Morrisseau qualifies for the NWOSSAA championship after finishing second at the NORWOSSA season-ending tournament at Heron Landing.
•Fort anglers Doug Berry and Glenn Ward capture the Rainy Lake Fall Bass Classic at LaBelle’s Birch Point Camp north of Devlin with a one-day total of 13.14 pounds.
•Dave and Darren Armstrong of Rainy River win the Rainy River Walleye Tournament with a two-day total of 24.22 pounds.
•Fort native Molly Carlson earns her first gold medal in national or international competition by winning the girls’ age 14-15 three-metre springboard event at the Union Americana De Natacion (UANA) Junior Pan American Diving Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
OCTOBER
•Muskie cross-country runner Jessica Steele grabs the bronze medal in the junior girls division at the annual Hial Pike Cross-Country Invitational meet at the Falls Country Club.
•The Fort Frances Wolverines junior football team loses 25-24 to the Dryden JV Falcons to end the season with a 2-2 record..
•Levi Rittau of the Fort Frances Cyclone Swim Club wins the high-point title for the boys’ age 15-16 category at the Boston Pizza Fall Frolic Invitational at the Memorial Sports Centre.
Josh Cousineau of the Fort Frances Aquanaut Swim Club leads his team by finishing second in the high-point category in the boys’ age 13-14 division.
•The Muskie football team loses 35-0 to the Elmwood Giants in their Andy Currie Division quarter-final of the Winnipeg High School Football League playoffs in Winnipeg. Three days later, head coach Chad Canfield announces his resignation after going 10-18 in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs during his time in charge.
•Muskie cross-country runner Hailey Beaudry qualifies for the OFSAA championship in Sudbury by finishing fourth in the five-km senior girls division at the NWOSSAA championships in Thunder Bay. At the OFSAA event, Beaudry comes in 191st place.
Fort native Molly Carlson also qualifies for OFSAA after placing third in the four-km junior girls event, but is unable to attend the provincials due to diving commitments.
•Jess Caul helps the Providence University College Pilots from Otterburne, Man., to their second consecutive Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference women’s soccer championship with a 2-0 shutout of the Red River College Rebels from Winnipeg in the final.
•The ninth-annual Fort Frances High School Girls Hockey Tournament goes to the hometown Muskies, who blank the Red Lake Rams 2-0 in the title game.

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