THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay Kings will take to the ice Monday morning in their opening game of the all-Ontario AAA bantam championship, which runs through Friday at the Fort William Gardens.
While serving as hosts of the seven-team event, the Kings also earned their way in by sweeping the Fort Frances Canadians to claim the Hockey Northwestern Ontario district title earlier this month.
THE KINGS: In 63 tournament and showcase games as well against Thunder Bay Minor midget AA regular season competition, the bantam Kings posted a solid 32-20-10-1 overall record.
That included capturing the North American Prospects Hockey League Future Prospects title back in December.
Among those leading the club is high-scoring forward Michel Stubbs, who shared the NAPHL Futures events in offensive production with 17 points, including 15 goals, which topped all skaters.
Owen Perala and Nikolas Campbell meanwhile shared fifth in NAPHL FP numbers with 11 points each.
Konner Kuuskivi was the top point getter among defencemen with seven in nine Futures Prospects games.
The Kings are backstopped by goaltenders Connor Lemieux and Stephan Bourgeois.
GAME ACTION: Day 1 play at the all-Ontario championship sees Thunder Bay taking on the Hockey Eastern Ontario champion Ottawa Jr. 67’s at 11 a.m.
That will be followed by a 7 p.m. match-up vs. the Northern Ontario Hockey Association title holders, the North Bay Trappers.
North Bay met the Kings back in September during an AAA Showcase in Sudbury with the Trappers skating away with a 4-1 victory.
Tuesday’s lone contest for the local AAA bantam will be at 4 p.m. against the Alliance champion Cambridge Hawks.
Wednesday sees the Kings taking on the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL at 1 p.m. before wrapping up the day vs. the HNO rep Fort Frances Canadians at 7 p.m.
They will then conclude round robin competition Thursday at 6 p.m. against the York-Simcoe Express, who claimed the Ontario Minor Hockey Association crown.
The Kings and Express battled to a 3-3 draw earlier this season at the Silver Stick International tournament back in January.
Friday features the top four teams advancing to the medal round with semifinal action to begin the day before wrapping up that evening with the bronze medal game at 5:30 p.m. and the gold/silver medal contest at 8 p.m.
DID YOU KNOW: Bantam Kings head coach Ed Atwill was a member of the Thunder Bay Bombers side that captured the 2005 Allan Cup Canadian senior hockey championship.
He was also skated for the Thunder Bay side that represented Canada at the 2006 Pannon PSM Cup in Budapest, Hungary international event against the national teams from Croatia, Slovenia and the host Hungary.
Among the talent in that four-nation event was current Los Angeles Kings standout Anze Kopitar, who starred for Slovenia.
Meanwhile two decades ago, current Kings assistant coach Murray Magill was a member of 1997 bantam squad that rolled to the then KOBE Cup all-Ontario championship in North Bay.
That star-studded 17-player roster featured five future NHLers, including three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Sharp and goaltender Alex Auld.
Every player off that ’97 bantam Kings squad went on to play junior or collegiate and university hockey in both Canada and the U.S. with others advancing to compete at the professional level.
|THUNDER BAY BANTAM KINGS ROSTER|
|30||Stephan Bourgeois||Thunder Bay|
|2||Kohl Johnson D||Thunder Bay|
|3||Alex Pineau D||Thunder Bay|
|8||Konner Kuuskivi D||Thunder Bay|
|11||Cole MacKenzie D||Thunder Bay|
|14||Trystan Goodman D||Beardmore|
|15||Dylan Bertrand D||Sioux Lookout|
|17||Matthew Halushak||Thunder Bay|
|6||Mason Bazaluk||Thunder Bay|
|9||Michael Stubbs||Thunder Bay|
|10||Travis Hensrud||Thunder Bay|
|12||Dawson Lampi||Thunder Bay|
|16||Nicholas DeGrazia||Thunder Bay|
|18||Mackenzie Sedgwick||Thunder Bay|
|19||Nikolas Campbell||Thunder Bay|
|67||Owen Perala F||Nipigon|
|91||Alex Atwill F||Thunder Bay|
Thunder Bay Kings all-Ontario AAA bantam championship schedule
All games at the Fort William Gardens
Monday, March 27
Kings vs. Ottawa Jr. 67’s (HEO) 11 a.m.
North Bay Trappers (NOHA) vs. Kings 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 28
Kings vs. Cambridge Hawks (Alliance) 4 p.m.
Wednesday, March 29
Kings vs. Toronto Marlboros (GTHL) 1 p.m.
Fort Frances Canadians (HNO) vs. Kings 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 30
York-Simcoe Express (OMHA) vs. Kings 6 p.m.
Friday, March 31
Semifinal 1: 4th round robin vs. 1st round robin 9 a.m.
Semifinal 2: 3rd round robin vs. 2nd round robin 11:30 a.m.
Bronze Medal Game: 5:30 p.m.
Gold/Silver Medal Game: 8 p.m.