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Fighting Walleye welcome international students to finale

The Kam River Fighting Walleye are hosting Canadian Newcomers Night, inviting international students from Confederation College to a pre-game skate and to take in Saturday night's game against the Dryden Ice Dogs.
Kam River defenceman Josh Morton on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (Leith Dunick,

OLIVER PAIPOONGE -- It's Hockey Day in Oliver Paipoonge.

The Kam River Fighting Walleye and Dryden Ice Dogs will round out the Superior International Junior Hockey League schedule on Saturday night at the Norwest Arena, a night after the league cancelled its entire Friday night slate due to weather and highway condititions.

The Fighting Walleye, who have clinched top spot in the standings and a first-round bye, have invited a group of international students from Confederation College to check out the game, against the Dryden Ice Dogs, learn a little about the sport and enjoy a pre-game skate.

It's all part of the team's attempt to foster inclusivity in sport and throughout the community, said team president Derek Geddes, adding the idea is to create the ultimate Canadian experience for international students new to Canada.

“When you have a number of newcomers to Thunder Bay for the first time, we have an opportunity to showcase what the Fighting Walleye are about,” Geddes said, in a release.
“It was wonderful collaborating with the college’s marketing students and professor. They dedicated both school and personal time to achieve their goals. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for them.” 
About 30 students are expected to attend the game, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Among the contingent is Sargam, who arrived in the city this past December from North India and noted the transition to life in Canada hasn't been easy. Events like Saturday's hockey outing are helping ease that transition, she said.
“It was hard to get used to the cold winter, new culture, and especially being so far from home. This atmosphere inside the arena inspires you; you want them to win,” she said.
Lauryn Marchant, a second-year college student who helped organize the outing, said she and her fellow students drew on their own experiences when looking at the Canadian way of life.
"We wanted to give them a Canadian experience, which most of us as domestic students have lived by growing up here in Thunder Bay. We played hockey or hung out at the rink cause a sibling played. What’s more Canadian than a hockey game?” she asked.
The students will also be using the occasion to raise money for charity, auctioning off a signed Fighting Walleye jersey in support of Our Kids Count.
Geddes said it's a win-win experience for everyone involved.
"We really hope this is something they can use throughout the rest of the time here, whether it’s making connections with other newcomers or fans. It’s memory that will stick with them for a long time to come," Geddes said.
The league on Saturday announced that in addition to the Ice Dogs/Fighting Walleye contest, the Fort Frances Lakers will host the Sioux Lookout Bombers, but the scheduled contest between Thunder Bay and Red Lake has been cancelled. The latter game will determine third place in the SIJHL standings. The Bombers are 28-20-3 and can clinch third with a point. If they lose in regulation the North Stars (27-20-6) would take third, based on points percentage.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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