Bombers Look to Make a Splash in Inaugural Season

September 30, 2022

By: Gary Moskalyk

Head coach Carson Johnstone has been tapped to be the inaugural Head Coach of the SIJHL expansion Sioux Lookout Bombers as they finally get ready to take the ice this year.

Just off a 10-year playing career, including stints in Europe, the 28-year-old from Niagara Falls, ON, relishes his new role. His father, Chris Johnstone, had a prolific NCAA III career, amassing 256 points in 97 career games, and coached after that. Hockey’s been in Carson’s DNA from day one.

“The reason I do what I do is because I grew up watching my dad do hockey my whole life,” he said. “He was passionate about it, teaching kids the game, changing peoples’ lives. . . Following in his footsteps  I learned. I learned everything I know from him.”

Leading into the season opener at home on October 1 against Wisconsin Johnstone admits to a lot of nervous energy.

“Right now for me, it’s excited anxiety. I can’t wait to get going but I’m a little bit anxious, too. I haven’t really seen the league, the quality of it. We haven’t been able to play any pre-season games yet,” said Johnstone.

Johnstone was running hockey programs for U16 and U18 in southern Ontario and wished to move up. He applied for the Fighting Walleye job a few years ago.

A buddy of his suggested he apply for the Sioux Lookout position.

“Here we are. Went through the interview process. Was lucky enough to get hired,” he said.

As a new coach on an expansion team Johnstone is looking for consistency more than anything.

“My expectation is that we’re going to show up and give everything we have every night. We’re going to go hard and be tough to play against  every single night . . .”

The Bombers have three goalies, seven defencemen, and 12 forwards. Johnstone figures junior teams will be making cuts and his roster may pick up a few of those players along the way.

“Every kid here knows exactly the expectations. He knows why he’s here,” he said. “There’s going to be no confusion. They’re in the gym every day. The hard work we put in for our guys attracted quality people. Our culture is going to be great this year.”

The Bombers had an intrasquad game that drew over 200 fans.

“Fan support has been unbelievable, especially for me. Eye-opening. I’m from down south where they don’t care too much about junior, because of the NHL, OHL, and AHL there’s tons of hockey. Junior hockey down there is kind of like an afterthought. Hockey here is centre stage. I’m excited for opening night.”

The arena has been renamed “The Hangar” and the snack bar has been re-branded “The Terminal” to salute the Bombers.

Johnstone was a coach in the making for many years.

“I always thought the game better than I played. I wasn’t ever going to make the NHL,” he said. “I developed later, I was smaller. I had to take every opportunity. . .Watching these kids, some of them don’t even know how good they are yet. I’m trying to help them understand their ceiling, help them develop into the players they can be. It’s huge for me. That was literally my whole career.

“Just trying to get there, trying to get there, trying to get there. and finally you hit that threshold of ‘Okay, I can play this game.’ Just keep building on that. It’s a cool position to be in. I love my job. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Lucas Trimarchi, a power forward on the new club, is settling into the grind.

“It’s been pretty hectic the last few weeks,” said the 6-2, 200-lb winger from St. Catharines, ON. “We’ve been going pretty strong, practices every day 9:30 to 11:30. with team workouts (on top of that). We’re just trying to get the ball rolling so we can get going at a fast pace at the start of the season.”

Trimarchi is part of a stable of young players Johnstone recruited through his business, Pursuit Hockey Development.

“Coach Carson, we live basically right beside each other back home,” said Trimarchi. “There’s a couple of us in that Niagara region who travel all over together. . . A bunch of us play in tournaments with him and train with him over the summer. I knew off the bat Sioux Lookout was going to be the right place for me to play this year.”

Tyler Decoff, Connor and Blake Burke, Lucas Dunne, and Tyler Tykolis-Casey were similarly obtained.

“We’re looking like a fast group, Couple of young guys. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” assessed Trimarchi.

In his last couple of years Trimarchi taken on a new role, as a third-liner. This year he’s hoping to contribute more offensively–trade a few penalty minutes for points.

“I’ve got a feeling this year I’m still going to bring part of that intensity and power forward type play,” he said. “I’m going to have a lot more opportunities to score this year. I can also score, pass, make plays, skate.”

The season launches October 1st at The Hangar.

“I know the league itself is trying to make strides to be one of the more competitive leagues in Canada,” said Johnstone. “I’m super excited to be a part of that, because there’s opportunity up here. We can make it cheaper up here to play. Southern Ontario is just burying kids in money right now. I think there’s an opportunity for this league to explode.”