Ice Chips & Canoe Quips

Open water swimmers make waves!

Jackie White, Assiginack’s recreation-organizing dynamo finished hosting the second annual Open Water Swim. They had perfect conditions and added a 2.5 km swim along with the 1.3 km this year. 10 did the 2.5 km and four did the 1.3 km for a total of 14 swimmers from ages 33 to 62.

All but one was from off-Island! They came from Kentucky, Quebec, Sudbury, Elliot Lake and southern Ontario. Ray Scott was the lone Islander. Way to represent, Ray!

The fastest time in the 1.3 km was Kevin Vohraw, 22:23 in the 40-49 category and Ray Scott was just behind him in at 23:59.

The fastest time in the 2. 5 km was Mike Stirling in the 50-59 category, no less, needing just 33:12!

Jackie would like to give a huge shout-out to the wonderful volunteers this year and especially to the OPP and MNRF officers who were there with their safety boats. 

Island players important for Voodoos

The Junior Hockey Network website did a recent pre-season focus on the NOJHL’s Powasson Voodoos. Powasson consistently has had a strong record, especially over the last five years when they have been second only to the Soo Thunderbirds’ record during the time. 

The reporter put some questions about the team’s recipe for success to general manager and vice-president of hockey operations Chris Dawson. He is very optimistic about the team that will suit up for the 2019-2020 campaign for a number of reasons, but two local players were mentioned specifically. When asked about what returning players will be the key for the Voodoos, Dawson said, “Brett Shawana (12 goals, 20 assists, 32 points) really surprised a lot of people last year. We hope his relentless style of play will be contagious this season”. Brett is a 5’ 10” forward, 170 lbs and a previous North Bay and Sudbury “AAA” player.

Dawson was then queried what new players coming in had him so positive and the first person he mentioned was Gregory Trudeau-Paquet, who “will definitely boost our offence and give us some of the best top-six depth in the league”. Greg helped out Dawson’s prediction with a pair of goals in a 6 -3 win over Rayside this weekend. Have a super season, guys!

Local ball players win provincial title

Congratulations to Logan Bayer (who hailed from Mindemoya) and his team which won the Slo-Pitch Ontario Men’s D provincial championships. His team is mainly based out of Sudbury but features Matthew Gibson from Espanola and Scott Gibson, a frequent Island guest to visit family. 

Paul A. Taibossigai Memorial this weekend

It is great to always hear of another active event being started on Manitoulin. Thanks to organizers Jerry Debassige and Andre “Snooze” Corbiere they get to pay tribute to their late friend in a fitting way. The Paul A. Taibossigai Memorial Tournament is a men’s fastball and women’s slo-pitch event. Fortunately for Jerry and Snooze there are no team spaces left but the event at the M’Chigeeng ball field looks to be well worth checking out. There will be some exciting games, a canteen all weekend and a dance on Saturday night. 

Local athletes to continue at university

Former power forward Eugene Eshkawkogan (wife Natalie) with the Wiikwemkoong Hawks is sending not one but two of the family’s track athletes to Laurentian this fall. Eugenia is particularly skilled in the shot-put and son Ferris is a strong, all-round competitor. 

Paul Williams Memorial Fastball winner addition

Missing from my reported roster of the victorious Northern Redmen squad was Hector Alisappi! Sorry Hector and congratulations.

The fate of the Mindemoya Arena 

It appears as though the Mindemoya Arena will not be opening up for the season. Work is needed for the roof and a wall to make it structurally sound. The poor old building has had many external and internal band-aids over the decades and it seems that the decision to patch or not to patch is once again before council and committees. Unfortunately, at this stage of the year with hockey to start in October, even if this impasse could be breached it is too late. 

The Central Manitoulin councillors have ideas across the spectrum and are hearing a multitude of opinions on social media. Thoughts go from shuttering the JH Burt Memorial Arena in Mindemoya for the year and moving all operations to Providence Bay all the way up to saving for a multi-use sports-plex, complete with a tourist and community centre.  

I don’t really want to weigh in on what our future arena(s) will look like but I think it is important to note a couple of things. Firstly, our township—if not individual communities—need these spaces. You often hear of taxpayers saying things like, “the arena only serves a minority of people”. I would say a far greater number actually use the rink than most realize. 

Yes, hockey players need a rink but what about all the grandparents and aunts and uncles who go watch? There is the farmers’ market with many vendors and customers including summer residents. The M’Chigeeng Arena has been hopping all summer instead of those people staying in Mindemoya. The longest-running school fair takes place annually in there. Recreation programs have been held there. C.M.P.S. annually does weekly skating and there is often non-hockey-playing kids learn to skate, etc.

Arenas do cost a lot of money, granted. However, they are not meant to be money makers. Ice rentals do help assuage some debts, of course, but our community leaders need to decide if they want healthy and active residents and a meeting place. Residents also have a responsibility to get in touch with these leaders and let their feelings known. Griping on Facebook is not enough.

A good sport is good for sports.