It’s a long road to the Dudley Hewitt Cup, especially for any team from Northwestern Ontario having to ride a bus for double-digit hours just to get there.
But that road might get immensely shorter for the Fort Frances Lakers—if the price is right.
Lakers’ president Milt Strachan confirmed last Tuesday, during the team’s “Recognition Night” at the Copper River Inn here, that the local squad has the inside track on hosting the 2015 Central Canadian junior ‘A’ hockey championship.
“It’s the SIJHL’s turn to host and Thunder Bay did it the last time around in 2012,” explained Strachan.
“We’ve basically been told if we want it, it’s ours.”
Strachan noted Dryden town council orders the ice to be taken out of the Chris Pronger Arena by mid-April each year due to budgetary restrictions, so there’s no chance for the Ice Dogs to host the Dudley Hewitt Cup.
He added the Ear Falls Recreation Centre, built in 1973, wouldn’t be considered large enough, or in good enough shape by league officials, to hold the tournament.
As for the Minnesota Iron Rangers in Hoyt Lakes and the Wisconsin Wilderness in Spooner being considered, Strachan said bluntly, “I don’t think Hockey Canada would ever want the Dudley Hewitt being contested in a U.S. town.”
Team executives met last Monday (May 5) to discuss the matter, which only will resolve itself in Fort Frances’ favour if the financial obligations of holding the tournament are deemed reasonable by the Lakers.
“The league will hold its annual general meeting in early June and there’s going to be a cost set for hosting such an event that will be the standard from now on,” Strachan said.
“If the price comes in at around $70,000, we can probably handle that,” he remarked.
“If it’s around $105,000, we’ll have to think carefully about it.”
Strachan said with a $70,000 price tag, the Lakers would need to sell roughly 600 week-long passes for the tournament at the cost of around $100 each, which is an attainable goal in his mind.
“But if it’s over $100,000, now we’re looking at having to sell around 1,000 passes and that would be tough—even with us being the home team,” he admitted.
“We don’t want to set ourselves up where we have to go and approach our sponsors a second time during the same season,” Strachan reasoned.
“If they help us with the Dudley Hewitt Cup, they might not be able to help in other areas and that would take away from other aspects of the team’s operations,” he said.
The Lakers finished third at this year’s Dudley Hewitt Cup.