The OUA hockey team returned to the scene in 2001 after a lackluster existence previously, which ended in 1985. The new incarnation of Lakehead hockey would bring with it a unique structure that is rarely seen in Canadian university sports. The Thunderwolves would not be operated by the university, but through a partnership between Lakehead University and the Lakehead Thunderwolves Varsity Hockey Corporation; a private sector-university partnership that has a been extremely successful in Thunder Bay. Culminating in the 2006 Queen’s Cup, the Thunderwolves have put together a program that is the envy of the conference.
Home for the Thunderwolves is the City owned, circa 1951, Fort William Gardens. At a significant capacity of over 4,500, Lakehead fans have consistently blown away the attendance figures of all other hockey programs in the country, averaging around 3,000 fans per day. Lakehead hockey is the big ticket in town and Thunderwolves fans are the cream of the crop. Nowhere else in the country is the home ice as obvious as it is in Thunder Bay.