PLYMOUTH, Mich. – A Trenton Morriseau tally 3:51 into the third period proved to be the game-winner as the Thunder Bay major midget Kings went on to defeat Meier AAA of Western Michigan 5-2 Sunday night in the championship game of the North American Prospects Hockey League’s Dixon Cup under-18 division final held at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
Picking up the first power play of the night, Thunder Bay worked the puck around nicely that resulted in Nicholas DeGrazia taking a cross-ice pass from Cole MacKenzie and promptly whipped one past Meier goaltender Broderick Lineman from the right faceoff circle at 10:43.
The best chance in the first half of the second stanza came when Meier’s Chris Crider was sent in alone on a shorthanded breakaway only to be denied by Thunder Bay starter Jordan Smith.
They then rang one off the cross bar later in the frame and continuing to press the pace were rewarded with a man advantage marker from close range off the stick of Brendan Dicker, who went high over the blocker of Smith with just over two minutes left in the middle session.
However, Thunder Bay came right back to regain the lead with Mason Bazaluk feeding an open Mackenzie Sedgwick who chipped the puck over Lineman to give the Kings a 2-1 cushion after two.
Working it free on a cycle deep in Meier AAA territory, the major midgets went up by a pair early in the third when Morriseau banged in the rebound off a Christian Veneruzzo attempt.
Battling back, Meier pulled back to within one as Anthony Davis buried a chance from the slot at 5:51.
They then had a couple of glorious chances to tie it while down a skater, but Smith made a couple of key stops from close range to keep the Kings in front.
Backstopped by the solid play of their netminder, Thunder Bay iced it late with a pair empty netters from deep in their own zone from Dawson Lampi and Trystan Goodman to secure the Kings first-ever NAPHL U-18 title.
Veneruzzo and Peter Hannula dished out two assists each to aid in the victory.
Smith’s stellar efforts saw him make 25 saves to record the win for the 2019 TELUS Cup Canadian National Midget Championship hosts.
Meier AAA, who competes out of the Western Michigan area, did win the under-16 title Sunday with a 4-3 triumph over Sioux Falls, S.D.