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New Fighting Walleye head coach excited for opportunity

Dwight Lee was hired as the new bench boss for the Superior International Junior Hockey League club on Tuesday.
Dwight Lee will be leading the way behind the bench for the Kam River Fighting Walleye when the 2024-25 Superior International Junior Hockey League season gets underway.

OLIVER PAIPOONGE – For Dwight Lee, the fact that he’s now the head coach for the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s Kam River Fighting Walleye is starting to sink in.

“I think it is going to start feeling real when we get back here for training camp, but having gone through the conversations with the team and then getting to come here for a visit, that’s when it all started to really hit me,” Lee said.

The 34-year-old from Kimberley, B.C. was officially announced as Kam River's new head coach on Tuesday.

He will be formally introduced to the team’s fans during an event at the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Lee is already familiar with the Fighting Walleye program. He worked with the team as a scout in his home province until he was hired to be an associate coach with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Powell River Kings last season.

He’s also spent time on the ice in the SIJHL as he recorded 74 points in 81 games with the Fort Frances Lakers, Sioux Lookout Flyers and Dryden Ice Dogs from 2009 to 2011.

Lee rounded out his junior career by winning a championship with the Ice Dogs.

“That familiarity is part of the reason why I decided to come here,” Lee said. “I’ve been able to follow along with the winning tradition that’s been built here in Kam River and I think knowing the league is going to be a huge benefit as well.”

Lee’s first taste of coaching actually started during his SIJHL playing days, as he was an assistant coach for a recreational team in Fort Frances.

“I did a lot instructing with hockey schools and various things, so I’ve always had that passion for coaching,” Lee said.

“I would consider myself to be a new age style of coach. I implement a lot of video, try to have really good communication with the players and work a lot on skill development.

“With the players that come through this program, I want to identify their strengths and utilize them in different roles, but I also want to see what I can do to help them round out their game and make them better players.”

Lee is taking over for former head coach Jesse Messier, who has moved on after one season to become an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Bloomington Bison.

“When we saw that he had applied, Dwight was the guy we wanted,” Fighting Walleye general manager Kevin McCallum said.

“I went to all our players and asked what they wanted in our next coach, and they wanted a younger guy who was a player’s coach that was going to lead them to the next level.

“To make that jump from the BCHL to the SIJHL is a tough one, but Dwight trusts what we do here and he’s probably going to be the third coach to roll in here and move on to another opportunity.”

Having reached the SIJHL final in three straight seasons, the expectations are high for the Fighting Walleye, especially as they look to return to the top of the mountain after being swept aside in last year’s Bill Salonen Cup by the Sioux Lookout Bombers.

Those standards are part of the reason why Lee was drawn to the job.

“I want to go to a place where you have a chance to do something special right out of the gate,” Lee said.

“Looking at this group of players and all of the personnel around the organization, I think the goals ought to be high.”

Lee will get his first glimpse at this year’s potential roster on Aug. 23 when the Fighting Walleye’s training camp begins at the Norwest Arena.

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