The junior B Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) Flames hosted a training camp in Thompson Sept. 12-14 in preparation for their inaugural season in the Keystone Junior Hockey League (KJHL).
According to head coach Cody Genaille, roughly 35 athletes showed up for this three-day affair that consisted of scrimmages and team-building exercises, eventually culminating in a Saturday exhibition game against the U18 Norman Northstars at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena.
Although the roster won’t be finalized until late September or early October, Genaille said he was very impressed with the talent on display, which includes former Northstars such as Braedin Melsted, Keistin Saunders and Chase Muswagon.
“I believe we’re going to have a young, fast team,” he said. “So we’re going to rely on speed and hopefully that changes the dynamic of the league with our team coming in.”
Genaille said he was excited to see junior B hockey finally return to this part of the north over the weekend, since the NCN Flames weren’t able to find a new home after the Northwest Junior Hockey League folded in 2004.
Moving forward, Genaille hopes that the rekindled NCN Flames will provide an opportunity for athletes who have aged out of U18 hockey and want to continue on with their development.
“We’re looking to put a winning team on the ice and come out consistently. The old ‘Jungle B’ fighting days are over,” he said. “We’re looking forward to playing hockey, not that rough stuff.”
While the KJHL hasn’t finalized the schedule for their 2019-20 regular season yet, Genaille said it’s likely to kick off sometime in mid-October.
Once things get going, the NCN Flames will be facing off against established KJHL teams like the Cross Lake Islanders, Norway House North Stars, OCN Storm and Peguis Juniors.
Their home games will take place at both the Thompson Regional Community Centre and the Gilbert McDonald Arena in Nelson House.