KENORA – A Michael Vecchio goal four minutes into overtime lifted the Thunder Bay major midget Kings to a narrow 3-2 triumph over the Kenora Thistles Friday night in Game 3 of their Hockey Northwestern Ontario AAA midget District Championship at the Kenora Recreation Centre.
With the result, Thunder Bay wins best-of-five series HNO District title 3-0.
After a scoreless opening frame, Kenora opened the scoring 4:51 into the second period on a Cooper Witherspoon marker.
Thunder Bay tied it late in the session during a two-man advantage with Zach Fortin notching the equalizer at 18:08.
The Thistles regained the lead early in the third thanks to Ben Hackl, but the Kings drew level once more to force OT when Jonathon Kilby set-up Jacob Anttonen with 11 minutes remaining in regulation.
Moving on to the extra session, Vecchio won it for the visitors as his game-winner finished off the sweep for Thunder Bay.
Kenora outshot the Kings 42-35 on the night with Seth McKay picking up the victory while Matthew Booth suffered the setback.
Both clubs will now compete in the TELUS Cup West Regional, April 5-8, at Fort William First Nation Arena.
Joining them will be the champions of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League and the Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League with a berth on the line to the TELUS Cup later that month in Sudbury.
The Manitoba final sees the Winnipeg Wild up one game to none on the Brandon Wheat Kings in that best-of-five match-up.
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame Hounds hold a 1-0 series lead against the Prince Albert Mintos in the best-of-five Saskatchewan championship series.
HNO AAA Midget District Championship
Thunder Bay Kings vs. Kenora Thistles
Thunder Bay wins best-of-five series 3-0
Game 1: Thunder Bay 7 Kenora 3
Game 2: Thunder Bay 2 Kenora 1
Game 3: Thunder Bay 3 Kenora 2 (OT)
TELUS Cup West Regional
All games at Fort William First Nation Arena
Thunder Bay major midget Kings (HOST-HNO)
Kenora Thistles (HNO)
Manitoba champion (Winnipeg Wild or Brandon Wheat Kings) (MAN)
Saskatchewan champion (Notre Dame Hounds or Prince Albert Mintos (SASK)
Thursday, April 5
Kenora vs. Saskatchewan 4 p.m. (FWFNA)
Manitoba vs. Thunder Bay 8 p.m. (FWFNA)
Friday, April 6
Manitoba vs. Saskatchewan 4 p.m. (FWFNA)
Thunder Bay vs. Kenora 8 p.m. (FWFNA)
Saturday, April 7
Kenora vs. Manitoba 12 p.m. (FWFNA)
Saskatchewan vs. Thunder Bay 3 p.m. (FWFNA)
Sunday, April 8
Final: 2nd round robin vs. 1st round robin 2 p.m.
Winner advances to TELUS Cup Canadian National Midget Championship, April 23-29, in Sudbury, Ont.