Hockey: U13 AAA provincials begin Wednesday at Fort William Gardens

Photo: Thunder Bay Kings
Photo: Thunder Bay Kings

THUNDER BAY – The All-Ontario under-13 AAA hockey championship, presented by BioSteel, begins Wednesday morning and runs through Sunday evening (April 12-16), at the Fort William Gardens.

A total of seven teams will be vying for provincial U13 supremacy throughout the five-day event.

Here’s a brief look at the competing clubs:

Team: Thunder Bay Kings
Branch: (Host) Hockey Northwestern Ontario
Head Coach: Jason Disher

How they arrived: While the Kings are hosts of the under-13 AAA provincial championship, presented by BioSteel, they also earned their way to the event by recently being crowned Hockey Northwestern Ontario district champs. … Thunder Bay defeated the Kenora Thistles in two straight contests to claim the district title. … The Kings also competed in the Greater Toronto Hockey League for a full season for the first time in 2022-23. … Pacing the squad offensively was Brady Nash, who scored 60 times and assisted on 42 others for a 102-point campaign in 61 games played. … Cooper Disher was next on the Kings in offensive production as he registered 75 points, including 53 helpers. … Returning forward Jace Vortman was next with 70 points on 31 tallies and 39 assists. … Goaltenders Kainaan MacGillivray and Carter Johnson combined for 21 victories and seven shutouts on the season.

Team: Kenora Thistles
Branch: Hockey Northwestern Ontario
Head Coach: Ryan Bowen

How they arrived: The second Hockey Northwestern Ontario representative are the Kenora Thistles. … They hosted the district event last month, but dropped the best-of-three affair in two straight to Thunder Bay. … The Thistles hosted a Challenge Cup tournament back in November and ran the table going unbeaten. … Included in their success was 7-3 victory over International Falls, Minn., in the gold medal game.

Team: Markham Majors
Branch: Greater Toronto Hockey League
Head Coach: Kevin Cribari

How they arrived: Markham ruled the roost in the 13-team GTHL U13 division during the course of the regular season, finishing first overall with an impressive 27-3-6 record. … This included a trio of triumphs over Thunder Bay in league play, winning by scores of 4-3, 7-2 and 1-0. … In the postseason, the Majors swept both the Toronto Marlboros and the Mississauga Senators en route to the championship.

Team: Ottawa Valley Titans
Branch: Hockey Eastern Ontario
Head Coach: Brent Carty

How they arrived: Guided by veteran head coach Brent Carty, Ottawa Valley earned their way to Thunder Bay after garnering Hockey Eastern Ontario laurels. … The claimed the HEO title by defeating the Eastern Ontario Wild four games to two in the final. … The Titans return to the U13 provincials for a second-straight year. … Ottawa Valley won the bronze medal at the 2022 event held in Burlington last April.

Team: Whitby Wildcats
Branch: Ontario Minor Hockey Association
Head coach: Anthony Cornacchia

How they arrived: Taking part in the eight-team OMHA championship, with a berth to the provincials on the line, the Wildcats finished second in their division with a 2-1 record. … After dropping a 4-2 decision to the Barrie Jr. Colts, Whitby rebounded with wins over the Grey-Bruce Highlanders (6-2) and the host Oakville Rangers (3-1) to earn a slot in the semifinals. … After knocking of the Quinte Red Devils there, they clipped the Credit River Capitals in the OMHA title game.

Team: Nickel City Sons
Branch: Northern Ontario Hockey Association
Head Coach: Corey Crane

How they arrived: The Sons from Greater Sudbury punched their ticket to Thunder Bay following a tight NOHA final versus the Soo Jr. Greyhounds, with a tightly-contested best-of-five affair that went the distance. … Nickel City and the Soo split the first four meetings with the Sons taking games one and three by 3-2 and 6-3 counts, while the Hounds countered with 4-3 and 4-3 victories. … In the winner-take-all finale, Greater Sudbury saw Cooper Niquet score twice and a get a single off the stick of Dacey Dupuis to knock off the Soo and secure their trip to the Lakehead.

Team: Sun County Panthers
Branch: Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario
Head Coach: Thomas Luxik

How they arrived: Earning their way to Thunder Bay, the Windsor-area Panthers defeated the London Jr. Knights to win the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario crown. … In round robin competition, host Sun County dropped the Elgin-Middlesex Canucks 4-2, then tied the Hamilton Huskies 0-0, before bouncing the Brantford 99ers 10-2 and defeating the Knights 3-1. … They then took care of Brantford, 3-1 in semifinal action before topping London by an identical score. … Cole Coristine provided the game-winner and added an assist in the final.

ALUMNI: Notable Kings U13 NHL alumni include Ryan Johnson; Trevor Letowski; Jeff Heerema; Alex Auld; Jason Jaspers; Taylor Pyatt; Patrick Sharp; Eric Staal; Tom Pyatt; Marc Staal; Jordan Staal; Jared Staal; Matt Murray and Mackenzie Blackwood.

TICKETS: Full event passes, for all 25 contests, ($55), along with single-day tickets ($16), are on sale online now via the following:



Walk-up tickets will also be available at the Fort William Gardens Box Office throughout the event.

For further information on the 2023 All-Ontario U13 AAA Championship, presented by BioSteel, including online game-viewing subscriptions, via SIJHL TV, visit

2023 All-Ontario U13 AAA championship
April 12-16

Competing teams
Thunder Bay Kings (Host)
Kenora Thistles (HNO)
Nickel City Sons (NOHA)
Markham Majors (GTHL)
Ottawa Valley Titans (HEO)
Whitby Wildcats (OMHA)
Sun County Panthers (Alliance)

Schedule (All games at Fort William Gardens)

Wednesday, April 12
Majors vs. Kings 10 a.m.
Sons vs. Thistles 12 p.m.
Panthers vs. Wildcats 2 p.m.
Titans vs. Majors 4 p.m.
Opening ceremonies 6:30 p.m.
Kings vs. Thistles 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 13
Sons vs. Panthers 10 a.m.
Wildcats vs. Titans 12 p.m.
Thistles vs. Majors 2 p.m.
Kings vs. Sons 4 p.m.
Panthers vs. Titans 6 p.m.
Wildcats vs. Thistles 8 p.m.

Friday, April 14
Kings vs. Titans 10 a.m.
Majors vs. Panthers 12 p.m.
Sons vs. Wildcats 2 p.m.
Titans vs. Thistles 4 p.m.
Panthers vs. Kings 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 15
Wildcats vs. Majors 8 a.m.
Titans vs. Sons 10 a.m.
Thistles vs. Panthers 12 p.m.
Kings vs. Wildcats 2 p.m.
Majors vs. Sons 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 16
Semifinal No. 1: 4th round robin vs. 1st round robin 10 a.m.
Semifinal No. 2: 3rd round robin vs. 2nd round robin 12 p.m.
Bronze medal game: 5 p.m.
Gold Medal game: 7:30 p.m.

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