Ice Chips & Canoe Quips

Classic hiatus!?

Unfortunately, as with most events that require some sort of social gathering, cancellation has been the order of the day. The same goes with the 2020 Mindemoya Classic. The Mindemoya Classic is a Run, Paddle and Pedal triathlon. It was slated for June 28 and would have been the 19th annual event for the organizers. In fact, all events for the Central Manitoulin Lions Club’s Homecoming Weekend have been put off until 2021. Organizers, Al and Andre hope everyone can stay safe, stay fit and they hope to see you next year.

Call for officials

Of course, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) has their collective fingers crossed that a new hockey season is in the offing. With that prospect, it goes without saying that we will need more officials to make sure that a return to hockey is a seamless transition. As it was, last season saw many games being officiated by fewer officials. With another year passing and another cohort off to school there will be an even greater requirement to recruit a greater number of the game’s essential pieces.

Granted, having been an official for many years it may not always be the most comfortable of positions. Overall, my recollections were very positive and were another way to be close to a great game. Despite the great need for refs, Manitoulin has produced officials who have moved up the ranks to preside over high level hockey. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Deb McLeod-Topash and Gabe Hare were both recognized by the NOHA with awards. Additionally, former Islanders “lining” in the NOJHL would be Cole Dumond of Gore Bay (working games in North Bay area) and Nick Head-Peterson (former summer Mindy resident who began reffing career in Mindemoya) is working games out of Sudbury and area.  Providence Bay’s Michael Niven has been doing top level games over in Kingston for several years. These people will all say that their experiences were rewarding. Give it a try!

Local sports

Organizer Greg Lockeyer is still holding out hope, if faint, that the Kids Ball Tourney in Mindemoya proposed for June 26-27-28 will still happen. Stay tuned, a decision will be made this week.

Where are they now?

Flashback time from my Dad, who has another colourful and memorable athlete. I’m sure many hockey fans on Manitoulin recall Larry Swihart, although you probably knew him as Chip or Chipper. To me, as coach he was always Chip. I don’t know why he carried that moniker, but on the ice and in the dressing room he was always chipper in regards to his team-centered  enthusiasm. No doubt much of that love of the game came from his late mother Sue who was an avid hockey Mom. She was always anxious to volunteer to help. 

Chip began hockey in Mindemoya at an early age, no doubt tyke. I believe I started coaching him in peewee. To him, practice was as serious as the game itself. At that time he was a defenceman with a wicked slapshot. He was also strong in front of his own nest and many an opposition player saw him from ice-level. He was a tough competitor. Body-checking was allowed in peewee at that time and Chip used it regularly. A good skater also, he would often rush the puck up ice. We had to put the brakes on him though as things sometimes dissolved when he hit the far blueline! 

However he developed into a solid defensive D-man. When his bantam year arrived we had moved up a level in competition, to the Manitoulin-Northshore League. It seemed the better league, made Chip better. It definitely improved his hockey smarts. In the three years that the Dolomite Bantams played in that League, the opposition learned who Mr. Swihart was. He continued to be tough and his slapshot began to find the back of the net. He was a source of strength as we won three Silver Stick Regionals and therefore trips to Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia where we won many more games than we lost. In addition to the on-ice fun, many former players will remember that the bus trips themselves were a bonding experience. Who can forget driver Bill!

When the team moved to the higher level NDHL, Chip was an important part of the transition. In our 2nd year we earned the League Championship over Valley East. Also, we again won the Silver Stick with Chipper (now moved to forward) launching the winning goal from just inside the blue line. Chip enjoyed being the hero! 

Once his minor hockey years were over he moved to the USA (he had been born there). Lo and behold young Swihart joined the US Navy and sailed the high seas. When his tour of duty was over he ended up in South Bend, Indiana and married another athlete, Candace Lorenz, a fine figure-skater and eventually a national level skating coach, teaching for The Irish Figure Skating Club. Over the years her students have won numerous medals and were able to compete successfully out of State. 

Soon, the young couple had two children, both boys. He made sure, with his wife’s strong support, that their boys were multi-sport athletes. Ben and Jake were especially strong in hockey and ball. They won many a championship. When Ben and Jake were on the same high school team, Valpo High, the team managed to win the state championship and Chip was one of the coaches. He also successfully coached minor hockey in the Notre Dame area. After the championship year Jake was invited to skate for the University of Toledo Team. He now is also a top-notch referee. Little brother, Ben joined him at the university this past fall. Sports are definitely in the family’s blood. Chip may have left the Island but the love of sorts followed him to Indiana.

A good sport is good for sports