TROY, Mich. – Despite being in just their second season in the highly-competitive North American Prospects Hockey League both the Thunder Bay major and minor midget Kings’ clubs are off to the NAPHL postseason.
Each of the Kings’ sides advanced to the NAPHL Gold Division playoffs next month in Troy, Mich. after wrapping up regular season action Monday.
Facing a must-win situation to advance in their final NAPHL match-up vs. Pursuit of Excellence of Kelowna, B.C., Thunder Bay got just that as they pulled out a narrow 1-0 triumph.
Jacob Brown supplied the only goal of game with 3:55 left in the second stanza while Ryan Fanti stopped all 21 shots fired his way to post the shutout.
With the result, the major midgets ended up 10-9-1-2 in the 18-team U-18 group, which put them ninth overall.
Meanwhile, even with a 1-4 weekend, the minor midgets qualified for the playoffs earlier in the day thanks to other results before finishing up with a 7-6 setback in a high-scoring contest vs. the New Jersey Titans.
In that game, New Jersey grabbed an early two-goal lead before Owen Belisle countered for the Kings, via the power play, with 13 seconds left in the opening frame.
The Titans then went up 5-3 after two with Cooper Witherspoon tallying twice for Thunder Bay.
Battling back in the third, Christian Veneruzzo and Jesse Appril, with his first, tied things up only to see their opponents regain the lead midway through the session.
Witherspoon finished off a hat trick to knot the affair at 6-6, but the Titans won it late notching the game-winner in the final minute to secure the decision.
Jordan Smith and Christian Cicigoi both saw time in net for the Kings in the loss.
The minor midgets finished ninth overall in U-16 standings with a 10-11-0-1 record.
The top 10 teams in both the major midget under-18 and minor midget U-16 divisions will be back in Michigan for the championship round Feb. 17-20.