Northwestern Ontario players return for Border Battle Cup

By Kevin Jeffrey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THUNDER BAY – Four players from Manitoba teams recently returned to Northwestern Ontario for the Border Battle.

The four-day event at the Tournament Centre was held from Feb. 15 to 18, featuring a pair of defencemen on the Pilot Mound Buffaloes: Carter Perrault from Migisi Sahgaigan, which is 22 kilometres southwest of Dryden, as well as Ryder Lilly from Sioux Lookout.

“I have been treated pretty good during the event,” Perrault said. “I love being back in Thunder Bay because I used to play minor hockey here.”

Perrault noted that a lot of kids from his hometown, which is part of Eagle Lake First Nation, make the trek to Dryden to play minor hockey.

“I found out about Pilot Mound from Ryder,” Perrault said about making the trek to Manitoba.

Rink Hockey Academy out of Winnipeg won the 2024 Border Battle Cup at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre on Sunday, February 18, 2024 – Kevin Jeffrey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

“I used to play minor hockey with him a lot, and I thought it would be a good place for me to play as well. My cousin also played with the Under-18 female team.”

Ryder Lilly is also enjoying his time in Pilot Mound, which recorded a population of 675 in the 2021 census.

The town is 30 minutes away from the border to the United States and an hour west of Winkler.

Lilly said he has had a chance to attend a few Sioux Lookout Bombers games of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).

“It’s really cool to have a team back in Sioux Lookout. It was fun to watch.”

A pair of Thunder Bay skaters play for the Rink Hockey Academy: forward Jake Ritson and defenceman Graeme Tenhunen.

Tenhunen enjoyed the return home, and Ritson got a thrill out of playing in front of his friends and family for the long weekend.

“It’s been an awesome experience. We have our own dressing room, and all of our needs have been looked after,” Ritson said.

He added that his experience on a spring team in Winnipeg caught the eyes of the decision makers with the Academy.

It runs as a Hockey Canada Accredited School out of the RINK Training Centre in Winnipeg.

The Rink Hockey Academy won the championship game 4-1 over the Hermantown Hawks on Sunday while the Soo Junior Greyhounds took down the Edina Hornets 4-3 in the Consolation final.