Huge weekend of hockey starts today

It will be a banner weekend for hockey enthusiasts in Fort Frances and area.
The hockey smorgasbord kicks off today with the start of the annual IP 2 (formerly Tom Thumb) tournament, which features players in Grades 2 and 3.
Fort Frances Minor Hockey is represented by five teams—Foodtown, Taggs, MacDonald GM, Skates & Blades, and the Times Tigers.
Play continues through Sunday.
This afternoon, both the Muskie boys’ and girls’ teams take to the ice as they begin their NorWOSSA semi-final playoff series.
The top-seeded boys open their best-of-three showdown with the fourth-seeded Kenora Broncos at 4 p.m. in the Ice for Kids Arena.
The second game will go Sunday afternoon in Kenora, with Game 3 (if necessary) back here on Tuesday night.
The black-and-gold are gunning for their fifth-consecutive OFSAA berth, having played in London (2004), Windsor (2005), Fort Frances/Emo (2006), and then Oshawa last year.
The girls’ squad, which also claimed first place in the NorWOSSA ‘AA’ division, will play the Thomas Aquinas Saints at 5 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
The Saints earned the fourth playoff seed by defeating the Sioux Lookout Warriors in the best-of-3 NorWOSSA ‘A’ league final.
After dropping the opener to Sioux Lookout by a 4-2 score, the Saints blanked the Warriors 3-0 in Game 2 and then squeezed out a dramatic 2-1 overtime win in the third-and-deciding game on Tuesday night.
The second game of the Muskies/Saints series will be played Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Kenora Recreation Centre, with Game 3 (if necessary) slated for here on Tuesday night.
The Muskie girls, having never finished first in NorWOSSA, are striving for their first-ever OFSAA appearance.
Meanwhile, the Fort Frances Canadians are starting a big series with the Fort William Hurricanes tonight as they look to qualify for the Ontario Winter Games on March 5-9 in the Collingwood area.
The best-of-three challenge gets underway tonight at 8 p.m. in the ’52 Canadians Arena. It continues Saturday at 8 p.m. in the ’52 Canadians Arena, with the rubber match (if necessary) set for Sunday at 3:15 p.m. in the Ice for Kids Arena.
Finally, after a short layoff, the Fort Frances Junior Sabres host the first-place Dryden Ice Dogs for a pair of weekend tilts.
Tonight’s opener will be played right after the Muskie boys’ tilt at the Ice for Kids Arena, with the rematch tomorrow (also at 7:30 p.m. in IFK).
The Sabres currently sit in fourth place in the SIJHL standings with 46 points—five ahead of fifth-place Schreiber and eight back of the third-place Thunder Bay Bearcats, with five regular-season games left on their schedule.
The Ice Dogs, who have claimed the #10 ranking among all Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey League teams, lead the second-place Fort William North Stars by just two points as the regular season winds down.