Great time to be a sports fan

This Saturday’s Rainy River Riot roller derby bout at the ’52 Canadians Arena will not only be an interesting encounter for the Fort Freakshow against the Babes of Thunder, it will also mark an unofficial start to the ensuing rush of sports that will be starting up over the next few weeks.
After laying dormant during the dog-days of summer, the ice is already back inside the Ice for Kids arena, and the Fort Frances Lakers have been taking to it during the last few days in preparation for their season opener here against the Thunder Bay North Stars on Friday, Sept. 16.
This season will be an intriguing for not only the Lakers but the rest of the SIJHL, as the North Stars are playing host to the 2012 Dudley Hewitt Cup, leaving an extra spot for an SIJHL team in the event up for grabs.
And though it’s still way too early to say what each team has and which team looks best going into the 2011/12 campaign, it’s safe to say this season might be very wide open.
The Lakers won’t be the only hockey team taking to the ice during the next few weeks and months, as both Muskie sides, the Canadians, the Thunderhawks, and teams from FFMHA and FFGHA are getting ready for their upcoming seasons, along with other sides throughout the area, including the national champion Rainy River Voyageurs women’s hockey team over in International Falls which has featured many local players over the years.
I’m sure though that there are a few people reading this column that don’t want to hear anything about ice and winter sports at the start of September, as it may remind them that the snowy and cold conditions are just around the corner.
So for those readers, there are a few other fall sports that are about to get underway that has nothing to do with ice.
For that, we turn towards the Fort Frances Muskies, who will be getting set to start their new seasons in curling, boys volleyball, girls basketball and football, in addition to the aforementioned hockey programs.
While I’m sure the curling, volleyball, basketball and hockey teams will be contending sides in NorWOSSA once again this year, the one team that I am worried about a little bit is the Muskies football squad, who have been dealing with low turnouts during the initial stages of their practices this past week.
With their season opener slated for Friday, Sept. 9 here against St. Norbert, here’s hoping that head coach Chad Canfield is able to get the number of players that he is looking for before the season gets underway, because it would be a shame if the black-and-gold were unable to take to the gridiron due to small squad.
Also, this time of year also sees the recreation leagues also seeing their signups taking place, with hockey, swimming, squash, badminton and curling groups. leagues and facilities all getting geared up for another year.
Even away from our neck of the woods, it’s an exciting to be a sports fan of any of the big four sports in North America, well except if you are an NBA supporters as no one even knows if there will be a season taking place at the moment due to the current labour situation.
While the two most supported teams in this area (the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins) are far out of the running, the pennant races in MLB are entering it’s final stages in preparation for the always entertaining playoffs in October.
Football fans will get more of their fair share of excitement in the coming weeks, as the CFL campaign rolls on, college football getting underway on both sides of the border this weekend, and the juggernaut that is the National Football League starting up once again shortly.
And then of course there is hockey, with the possibly the biggest and most exciting event taking place on Sunday, Oct. 9, as the city of Winnipeg returns to the NHL when their Jets will be taking on the Montreal Canadiens.
With all of that in mind, it certainly will be an exciting time over the next few weeks and months for sports fans, whether we are watching the games take place in the stands here locally or seeing what is taking place elsewhere in the comforts of our home or at the local watering hole.
And it hopefully should be enough to keep us going during the long winter as we get ready for the long wait until another gorgeous summer in our area.

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