Fort pursuing all-Ontario hockey showdown

As first reported in the Aug. 20 edition of the Daily Bulletin, Fort Frances is interested in hosting next spring’s all-Ontario hockey championships should Dryden decide to pull out.
Fort High vice-principal Ian Simpson was enthusiastic about a meeting last week with the Muskie Blueline Club.
“Right now, we are in the process of checking the situation,” Simpson said Monday morning. “We are very serious if Dryden opts to forego their responsibility of hosting the all-Ontarios.
“We are waiting and poised to jump in,” he added.
A decision is expected to be made by the Dryden host committee by Oct. 4.
Simpson said Fort High already has been given the necessary approval from NWOSSAA to host the provincial championship.
Dryden–and Kenora for that matter–may not ice NorWOSSA hockey team this season due to stalled contract negotiations between the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board and its high school teachers.
And if that’s the case, Dryden would not be able to host the all-Ontarios as planned, leaving the door open for Fort Frances to step in.
As host team, the Muskies would have an automatic berth at OFSAA.
Fort Frances last hosted the all-Ontarios in front of capacity crowds in 1989.
“You could say it was a unanimous decision in that everyone [at the meeting] was very interested in the bid,” Simpson stressed.
But Simpson also admitted they’re still wary about getting too involved in the planning of the provincial championship because it isn’t even certain if there will be one at all this school year.
“We want to be careful in that we don’t go too deep right now because there’s a lot of work involved,” he noted.
“OFSAA has a rule that says they need 50 percent participation in a sport to have a provincial championship,” he added.
Barney Maher, president of the Muskie Blueline Club, agreed a few orders of business would have to be taken care of before they would make a commitment to hosting the tournament.
“They [the high school] got a fairly good reception but it would have to be done with a few qualifications,” he said yesterday afternoon.
“It doesn’t look like we have too many games to cover expenses, and we’ll have to make sure we have the ice time,” he noted. “It’ll also depend on the crowds.”
Since the second indoor ice surface here wouldn’t be ready in time, some games would have to be played in Emo and International Falls.
Meanwhile, there’s no question the town would get an economic boost from hosting the players and their families, who would be spending money on gas, food, lodging, and shopping.
“Of course, it would be great for the town,” enthused Maher. “It would be a great financial shot-in-the-arm having 14-18 teams here.
“It would be great for the community.”