SIJHL goes ahead with pre-season tourney

The Superior International Junior Hockey League has decided to go ahead with its inaugural “showcase” tournament in Thunder Bay this weekend–complete with its two U.S.-based teams.
There had been some doubt within the camps of the Iron Range Yellow Jackets (Grand Rapids, Mn.) and the Northwest Wisconsin Knights (Spooner) about whether they would attend given the tightened security measures along the Canada-U.S. border after Tuesday’s terrorist attacks.
It took a meeting with SIJHL brass and several discussions with American team officials yesterday to finally decide to go ahead with the pre-season tourney.
“Everything was being cancelled so out of respect for what happened [and] we had seriously considered that course of action,” SIJHL president Jerry Blazino said from his Thunder Bay home last night.
“Today [Wednesday], I talked to both American teams and it’s definitely on,” he added.
But a number of U.S. college scouts who had planned on making the trip to Thunder Bay for the tournament likely will stay home this weekend, Blazino noted.
“It was a hard decision to make,” he admitted. “[The Americans] put a lot of effort in preparing for this, as every team has, so if they feel comfortable with coming up, then I feel comfortable running the tournament.”
Action will begin tomorrow morning with the local Borderland Thunder facing off against the Feathermen Hawks (Thunder Bay) at 8 a.m. at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre (near the airport).
Each team will play twice Friday and twice Saturday, with the top two teams meeting in a one-game final Sunday.