Icedogs need billet families; lots of new players signing up

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

There are a lot of moving parts in an effort to ice a junior hockey team – in Slave Lake or anywhere else. But it’s just the Slave Lake Icedogs we’re concerned with, and last week their manager put out a plea for billet families.

One reason these billets are needed more than they were in last year’s inaugural season is that (so far) most of the players signed are from out of the area. General manager Lauren Barr explains that is due to one simple factor: payment of fees.

The GMHL is a ‘pay-to-play’ league. That’s how it is viable in an era of limited gate proceeds and uncertainty in the sponsorship side of things. That was the concept last year, too but apparently quite a few players didn’t pay.

“I don’t want to chase kids all year again,” says Barr.

In other words; if you do pay, you will play. And most of the new recruits Barr has identified and signed are ones who have paid or will pay (or she is confident will pay).

Barr goes on to say the door isn’t closed on the return of several of the first-year players. It’s “up in the air,” she says, but they need to understand and accept the money thing. She does, however, expect or hope for the return of Ilias Okemow, Nigel Cardinal, Darian Alook and Dominic Beaver – all of them from Wabasca.

Filip Hudak – the Slovakian goalie announced earlier – will now not be joining the team due to COVID considerations, Barr says. Here’s some news on the latest crop of prospects:

Barr says four players were signed out of the identification camp, held last month at River Cree. Others are 21-year-olds with credentials from junior hockey leagues in various western provinces. They would be in their final year of eligibility for junior hockey, and hoping for scholarship opportunities after this season.

Some of the new names are Blaise Ovayuak from Inuvik Nunavut, Tucker Evans (Crowsnest Pass), Dalton Seniantha (played Midget hockey in High Level), Skyler Di Lallo, Tyler Browning (Huntington Beach, Ca.), Carson Lux (Drayton Valley), Bryce Young (The Pas, Man.) and Brody Sylvestre (Turner Lake, Sask).

The 2020/21 season schedule has not yet been announced. But the training camp should commence later this month, with games to begin sometime in early October.

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