New Jr. Sabres hockey club to be coached by Strachan

The Fort Frances Jr. Sabres, the town’s new SIJHL franchise, will be coached by former Borderland Thunder coach Wayne Strachan.
The Sabres were introduced to the community at a press conference held by Strachan, owner Carolyn Kellaway, vice president Nancy Gardiman, SIJHL president Ron Whitehead and Fort Frances mayor Roy Avis.
“I’ve been really busy these days,” Kellaway understated. She presented Strachan with a Sabres jersey and cap, breaking the worst kept secret in local hockey by announcing him as the head coach.
“We’ll stop all the rumours right now,” she said, drawing laughs.
For his part, Strachan conveyed a positive outlook for the team, even if it was too early to get into specifics. “There’s a lot of good players out there, and Fort Frances should be excited,” he said. “I think we’ll have a successful season.”
Strachan added that one of his biggest goals in recruiting is to keep the Jr. Sabres as stocked with local talent as possible.
Kellaway – who lives in Thunder Bay – is also committed to keeping the operation in town. “My whole objective is to keep everything within the city, the communities,” she said. “We’re trying to keep it all local.”
As for the question of money, the new owner didn’t deny the possibility of losing some cash to the birthing of an SIJHL franchise. “It’s very expensive. And we’re just going to leave it at that,” she said.
She kept high hopes, however, and motioned across the meeting table. “With all these guys and all this support, I really don’t see how we can go wrong.”
The schedule is still to come, and the league needs to decide how many games to draw up for the season. Whitehead explained that the only options available to the SIJHL are a 48 or 60 game season with a balanced schedule, or possibly a total in-between those with an unbalanced schedule, and that it is being worked on “very diligently.”
Gardiman said that season tickets will go on sale at the Memorial Sports Centre, the home of the Jr. Sabres, on Wednesday. Individual tickets won’t be sold for some time, but will be priced at $10 for adults, $8.50 for students and seniors and $7.50 for children.
As for the new team name, Kellaway insisted that it comes from her family’s local hockey team. She explained that every year her husband, Scott, coached their Sabres, he won the title, “so it’s a good luck name.”
Strachan is looking into possible trades with regional teams and recruiting top local players to the SIJHL, as well as looking to International Falls for some of the team’s allowed imports. He said he wasn’t going “to name names at this time” but hoped to have a first camp set up for the Canada Day weekend.