Game On Magazine September 2015 - Page 65

loop. It won’t be easy putting a team together but Blacksmith believes that by hiring Neumann University (Philadelphia) graduate Harley Garrioch -- one of the top defensemen ever produced in Cross Lake – as the team’s head coach, Blacksmith has a rock solid leadership base. “We felt that the boys that were junior aged showed the commitment we needed to be successful,” said Blacksmith. “Last season, we had 10 players drive 90 minutes to practice in Norway House twice a week. As well, we iced two successful teams in the Norman midget hockey league. We hope we’ll get some of our players back from Norway House, but even if we don’t, we have a good base of midget players to start.” Competing is not going to be easy. All the league’s top teams have a good nucleus of players back from last season and Chris Poponick, the head coach and general manager of the Baldy Northcott Trophy-winning Selkirk Fishermen is convinced he has the horses to win a third-straight KJHL title. “Can we three-peat? Yes, I believe we can,” Poponick said recently. “I have about 13 players back from last year’s championship team and I had a great crop of Black Aces working out with us from last year’s local high school team. I know I’m losing five players for sure, but I think that’s all. We’ll have a pretty solid nucleus of players from last year’s championship and we’ll have a number of players, like Karl Fey and Tyndall Fontaine, who have won two straight championships so they know what it takes.” Amazingly, Fontaine will play his sixth season in the KJHL in 2015-16. That’s a bit more experience than most players in Cross Lake will have and yet Blacksmith, who once played Jr. B with the Islanders, is excited about his team’s prospects. “We wanted to make sure our boys were committed and we have those commitments,” said Blacksmith w