Looking back at 2008

Where has the year gone?
Boy, how times flies when you are having fun. Has a year of sports history been written and preserved in the archives—only to be unshelved years down the road?
Flipping through the “big book” that includes every Fort Frances Times edition from 2008, I looked back on stories that told of successes, failures, great feats, disappointments, and tears.
There are pictures that show a range of emotions, whether in heartbreak after a playoff defeat or pure elation after a win.
2008 has come and gone, but our local teams and athletes will have lasting memories to cherish—from NorWOSSA championships to trips to OFSAA, or of personal achievements and glory wherever they ply their trade.
I only spent half the year here, but fondly remember the excitement I couldn’t help but feel when those final fish were being weighed or immediately after those winning goals were scored.
So let’s fondly look back at some of the more memorable moments in the past year of sports here in Fort Frances, and then toast future success to 2009:
•Curtis Boivin was crowned world champion in Jr. III at the Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby (Jr. III is a 16- to 17-year-old class for snowmobiles up to 600cc fan cooled, and he was only 15 at the time).
•Bryan Bonot’s Stratton rink took a 7-6 win over Tom Mayer of International Falls in the ‘A’ final of the annual “Icebox of the Nation” bonspiel. Ron MacKinnon beat Dave Bondett 7-4 for the ‘B’ title, Kathy Windigo topped Raymond Roy 7-2 for the ‘C’ crown, and Brian Angus beat Mike Cawston 7-4 in the ‘D’ final.
•Even though it’s technically a December event, the annual Boxing Day squash tournament is one of the surest signs of the new year and must qualify as a January event. Colin Drombolis was unstoppable last year, sweeping all of his opponents 3-0, including Jason Kabel in the final, to capture the ‘A’ division.
•The Muskie girls’ hockey team clinched a spot in the best-of-three championship final thanks to a 5-3 win over the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora). The Muskie boys, meanwhile, had an easier time clinching their NorWOSSA championship berth, pounding out consecutive 6-1 win and 9-2 wins over the Kenora Broncos.
•The Muskie senior hoopsters claimed NorWOSSA gold with a 65-58 over the Kenora Broncos but then lost to Westgate (Thunder Bay) for a chance to represent the region at OFSAA. The junior boys’ basketball team also won NorWOSSA gold with a 49-33 win over the Broncos, but both the senior and junior girls’ volleyball teams failed to advance past the semi-finals.
•Both the Muskie boys’ and girls’ curling rinks failed to advance to the all-Ontarios at the NWOSSAA playdowns. The boys went 4-1 in the round-robin but couldn’t match Westgate’s 5-0 record, while the girls finished the event at 2-3.
•The Fort Frances Jr. Sabres were swept in their best-of-five quarter-final series with a 5-4 loss to the Schreiber Diesels.
•Michael Nelson and Sophie Potvin-Begin claimed gold at 2008 Trillium STAR Skate Championships in Waterloo.
•The Muskie boys’ hockey team advanced out of NorWOSSA while the girls lost a tight series with the Kenora Broncos.
•Aquanaut Donovan Taylor claimed three medals at the jr. provincial swim meet.
•The Muskie boys’ hockey team’s dream of OFSAA gold ended when they lost a 3-1 battle to the John McCrae Bulldogs during the final game of the round-robin in Ottawa. They finished with 1-3 record to miss advancing to the quarter-finals.
•Anika Alexander, 11, won bronze at the Canadian Junior National squash championships in Victoria, B.C.
•Shane Bliss stepped down as head coach of the Muskie boys’ hockey team.
•La Place Rendez-Vous won the men’s hoops title with a 71-56 upset victory over the Vianets.
•Tim Desjardins and Jamie Jensen competed in the OFSAA badminton championships held May 1-3 at Brock University in St. Catharines, winning their first two matches before dropping the next two, including a final 21-17 and 21-12 loss to Brad Gemmel and Tim D’Ana (Southern Ontario Secondary School Association) to be eliminated.
•Doug McBride of Devlin and Steve Ballan of Fort Frances managed a 14.11-pound haul on the second and final day of fishing to capture the seventh-annual Emo Walleye Classic and reclaim the title they previously had won in 2005.
•Team “France” beat “Germany” in penalty kicks in the Division IV Fort Frances Youth Soccer final while Maroon beat Green 2-1 in Division V. Sara Kellar was given the Bryce Devoe Memorial Award for her dedication to the sport in honour of the local teen who had been struck and killed by lightning the previous summer.
•Josh Strain represented Fort High well at the OFSAA track and field championship in Hamilton, finishing fifth in the high jump competition despite limited resources to train with back home.
•The Muskie girls’ soccer team took NorWOSSA gold with a 2-0 win over the Kenora Broncos while the boys lost 3-1 to the Broncos in their final.
•The Muskie girls then finished with an 0-3-1 record in Collingwood at OFSAA. The highlight had to have been a 1-1 tie with the host St. Vanier team in their opening game, and they battled hard throughout the tournament.
•Joe Thrun and Jim Moynagh hauled in 55.89 pounds over the three days to capture the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship—beating out the father/son team of Alex and Darrell Keszler by more than 2.5 pounds—to claim back-to-back titles and their fourth overall.
•“Duncan Keith Day” went off without a hitch as the town paid tribute to an NHL all-star who first got his development in Fort Frances. He gave back to the community by announcing a $5,000 contribution to minor hockey.
•Times’ columnist Jeff Gustafon and August Collinson earned the $5,000 top prize at the eighth-annual “Castin’ for Cash” bass tournament hosted by Lake Despair Lodge.
•Molly Carlson, nine, claimed a bronze medal at Speedo Junior National Diving Championships in Thunder Bay.
•In Borderland adult soccer action, top-ranked Gillons’ trounced a short-handed Taggs team 5-1 in the women’s final while Dominos successfully defended their title with a 1-0 win over Pharmasave in men’s action.
•Taylor Jorgenson won the Kitchen Creek Classic with back-to-back rounds of 73, winning by two shots over last year’s champ, “Snake” Krawchuk.
•The Muskie football squad opened their WHSFL season with 30-21 loss to Winnipeg’s Garden City Fighting Gophers, but do pick up a win in their second game—a 7-3 win over former NorWOSSA rival Kenora.
•Shawn Jourdain signed on as new head coach of the Muskie boys’ hockey team.
•Ted and Louise Stewner hauled in a bag of 19.50 pounds on the final day of the LaBelle’s Rainy Lake Fall Bass Classic.
•The Barwick Blue Knights win their second Rainy River District Fastball League title in a row with a 7-3 win over the Rainy River Royals.
•The Fort Frances Jr. Sabres opened their second SIJHL season with four-straight home losses in September.
•The Muskie football team finished the regular season at 2-5, then lost 38-5 to Garden City in the quarter-finals.
•The Sabres rebounded with five wins to start October before losing three of their next four to close out the month.
•The Muskie girls’ hockey team beat the Dryden Eagles in the final of their home tournament to get their new season started on the right foot.
•Emo native Taylor Latimer hauled in a gold medal at the BMO Skate Canada’s Northern Ontario Sectionals.
•Both the Muskie junior and senior boys’ volleyball teams and the girls’ basketball squads are knocked out of the NorWOSSA final as Dryden sweeps all four divisions.
•The Taggs Bantam ‘AA’ squad won their home tournament with a thrilling overtime win over the Norwest Stars (Thunder Bay).
•The Muskie boys’ hockey team won a tournament in Morden with a 2-0 victory over the Winkler Flyers in the final.
•The Muskie girls’ hockey team lost in finals of a tournament in Altona and then one in Dryden.
•The Bantam ‘AA’ Canadians claimed silver at their home tournament with a 3-2 loss to Wayzata.
•Taggs won their third tournament of the calendar year with a win in Thunder Bay.
•The Sabres were out-bid in an attempt to acquire former Muskie Tyler Miller, but win their first four games of the month anyway.
•The Muskie junior and senior boys’ basketball teams began their NorWOSSA seasons at 3-0 while both girls’ volleyball teams have similar 2-1 records going into the New Year.

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