Updated: Jan 17
The annual Wildfire On Ice Hockey Tournament and Curling Bonspiel came to Walker the weekend of January 15th. This year was the 11th annual event and the 9th straight year it was hosted in the town of Walker. The 2022 event raised over $25,000 to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation!
The Wildfire On Ice event also raises funds for local benefactors: Walker Area Community Center, Walker Curling Club, and Walker Youth Hockey.
Over 200 firefighters and family members came for the event, the natural scenery, the ice fishing, the snowmobiling, skiing, and most of all… your hospitality! Thank you to Walker for being a generous host to this event.
Eleven years ago the event started as a small pickup hockey game amongst wildland firefighters. A chance to get together in the winter off-season and share some comradery. The first two years the pickup hockey game was held in the Grand Rapids area with a small fundraising effort. In 2014 the event moved to Walker and built on local relationships to substantially increase the festivities and fundraising element.
The funds raised go to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF), a 501c3 non-profit organization based in Boise, ID. When wildland firefighters are injured or killed in the line of duty, the Foundation can provide efficient financial and emotional support to firefighters and families that insurance and worker’s compensation can’t provide. The Foundation supports firefighters that work for state, tribal, federal, private, and volunteer/paid fire departments. When you hear about wildfire related injuries and fatalities via news media, you can bet the Foundation is supporting the firefighters and families. That includes local support for firefighters right here in Minnesota and US firefighters working out of the country (Australia and Canada for example). To learn more about this caring organization please visit: www.wffoundation.org
Wildfire On Ice works with several Walker businesses and organizations to make the event a success. The Walker Area Community Center has been a huge partner for all 9 years… providing the hockey and curling venue. Thank you to the Walker Rotary for the use of the Rotary Room. Chase on The Lake is the official lodging sponsor. The Spencer-Ross American Legion Post #134 (Banquet sponsor) has been a huge supporter every year. Village Square Café was the official “Skate with Smokey Bear” pizza provider. The event does local banking with First National Bank.
Several Walker area businesses have generously donated money, merchandise and services to support the event: Lundrigans Clothing, Reeds Family Outdoor Outfitters, Green Scene, Walker General Store, Rice Creative Services, Shores of Leech Lake Marina, Miner’s Super One Foods, Walker American Legion, and Ben Brovold - American Family Insurance.
2022 Wildfire On Ice Hockey Champs: Team DNR
The team representing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources won the Hockey Tournament (3rd straight year). Team DNR is captained by Dan Wiley and Bill Alleman.
2022 Bonspiel Champs: Government Mules (L to R) Jason Butcher, Bob Wickman, Kim Wickman, & Skip Trent Wickman
The Curling Bonspiel title was captured by the “Government Mules” hailing from rinks in Grand Rapids & Duluth (Trent Wickman, Kim Wickman, Bob Wickman, and Jason Butcher).
Jensen Rice, Hockey Tournament MVP
The Tournament MVP was awarded to Walker’s own Jensen Rice who scored a game winning shoot-out goal in the consolation game.
AARP Award Winner: Ernie Schmitt (kneeling)
Ernie Schmitt, retired DNR and Laporte resident, was awarded the senior’s “AARP Award” for his dedication and service to the tournament.
The 12th Anniversary of Wildfire on Ice will be in Walker in 2023! If you are interested in supporting the event please let us know. Find us on Facebook and www.wildfireonice.com