Grynol dominates Kobe Cup tournament

There’s no question many talented hockey players living in Northwestern Ontario often fall through the cracks of junior and college scouts who simply can’t make the long trek up here to check them out.
In the past, a young player’s only chance to shine in front of these eager scouts often occurred just once a year–at an all-Ontario championship or a major tournament in Thunder Bay or Winnipeg.
But for the first time this year, a regional “AAA” Dryden Hornets all-star team, comprised of players from across Northwestern Ontario, was put together with the intention of competing at the illustrious Kobe Cup Bantam provincial tournament in Thunder Bay last week.
And although the squad finished last in the seven-team affair, often getting blown out along the way, Hornets’ head coach John McKenzie said the tournament accomplished exactly what they had hoped–exposing the players to the scouts and management of several Ontario Hockey League and Junior ‘A” teams
“We wanted our players to get the exposure of going down to the tournament and playing against the best 14- and mainly 15-year-olds in the province,” said McKenzie, who selected the team after a pair of weekend tryouts in December.
Aaron Grynol, Brennan Kilmister, and Kevin Webb, all from Fort Frances, along with Adam McTavish (Devlin) and Ryan Lamoureux (Rainy River), suited up for Dryden, gaining valuable experience while getting the chance to showcase their skills in front of several scouts.
And Grynol, the leading scorer for the Muskies this past season, proved to be the highlight for Dryden, being named as the top forward of the tournament.
He also finished fourth in scoring with eight goals and four assists in just six games.
“Not only did [Grynol] dominate the team but he dominated the entire tournament,” enthused McKenzie in a phone interview from his Dryden home Monday night.
“I had one OHL GM come up to me and he said ‘How does a kid from Fort Frances perform the way he did and how come no one ever heard of him?’”
McKenzie said although he was in awe of Grynol’s talents on the ice, more importantly he was impressed with his leadership qualities.
“His overall team play and commitment to the team were what stood out,” he said. “He was always coming back to the bench and encouraging his teammates.”
Grynol, himself, knew the importance of playing well in Thunder Bay.
“I knew it was my only chance to be seen while I was playing for the Muskies,” admitted Grynol, who starred in Bantam last season with Kenora, adding the teams at the tournament played a different style of game compared to the high school level.
“Playing ‘AAA’ is a completely different game, more of a finesse game; while with the Muskies, it’s more physical with more clutch-and-grab,” he noted.
Grynol confirmed he had been approached by a “few” junior teams after the tournament but preferred to downplay the attention he got afterwards.
“I didn’t expect to be named the top forward,” said the 5’10”, 165-pound centre. “I’m just going to work hard, stay in shape, and prepare [to try out] for the under-17 team.”
Grynol already has been swayed to acquire an agent, and is currently leaning towards signing with the same one as Dryden’s NHL brother tandem of Chris and Sean Pronger, who are close friends with Dryden assistant coach Todd Desautels.
But McKenzie also said all of the players from Rainy River District did well at the tournament, especially considering the rest of them spent the past season playing at the Bantam ‘A’ level.
“Those guys were just phenomenal. They played with a lot of guts and they never gave up,” said McKenzie, alluding to the fact the team played better as the tournament wore on.