Kings too much for area players


It’s good to be king.
Three different versions of the Thunder Bay Kings ruled their hockey kingdoms with iron fists over the weekend, cleaning up on their opponents to capture the Hockey Northwestern Ontario ‘AAA’ branch championships–and not even losing a game in the process.
In the Bantam ‘AAA’ division, the Kings swept the best-of-three matchup against the Fort Frances Canadians, which normally plays as a Bantam ‘AA’ squad but had itself carded a level higher for the chance to play in this event.
But both teams will continue their seasons at the 2017 All-Ontario Bantam Championship set for March 27-31 in Thunder Bay.
The Kings automatically were in the tournament as the host team, meaning Fort Frances was guaranteed a spot in the field as the official HNO rep.
Thunder Bay grabbed a 3-0 lead in Game 1 en route to a 4-2 victory.
Dawson Lampi had two goals for the Kings while Nikolas Campbell and Owen Perala added singles.
Connor Lemieux made 13 saves to earn the win in goal.
Shaymus Stevenson and Dylan Winsor replied for the Canadians while Mason Vogrig had 16 saves.
The Kings repeated the script in Game 2, again jumping out to a 3-0 lead in cruising to a 6-1 triumph.
Campbell and Alex Atwill led the way with two goals each while Michael Stubbs and Nicholas DeGrazia had one apiece.
Stephan Bourgeois made 10 saves for the win.
Winsor had the lone reply for the Fort, with Isaac Fagnilli turning aside 31 shots in a losing cause.
The two teams decided to play the third game as an added exhibition game, with Thunder Bay rolling to a 5-0 victory to make it six wins in six meetings against the Canadians this season.
Mason Bazaluk tallied twice for the Kings in that one, with singles going to Atwill, Travis Hensrud, and Lampi as Lemieux made 10 stops.
Vogrig had 24 saves in defeat.
In the PeeWee ‘AAA’ division, Thunder Bay swept both games against the NWO Stars regional team to qualify for the PeeWee ‘AAA’ Championship on April 3-7 in Toronto.
Game 1 saw Thunder Bay go up 3-0 on goals by Manerplaw Winning, Josh Lehto, and Owen Loubler.
The Stars got a third-period marker from Nolan Mann of Fort Frances, with an assist to fellow Fort player Emerson Evans along with Daniel Tom.
But Winning notched his second into an empty net with 54 seconds to go to cap the 4-1 final.
Oliver Tuchenhagen had to make just 10 saves for the win in goal.
Kaden Kings had 25 stops for NWO, whose other Fort-based players included Ethan Rose, Issy Taylor, Koda Radigan, and Evan Kabel, along with Emo’s Brandon Croswell.
The Kings connected twice on the power-play in Game 2 en route a 5-0 shutout to clinch the series.
Jack Pineau, Jett Mintenko, Adam Blazino, Alex Remenda, and Emerson Pelletier each scored for Thunder Bay while Keenan Marks earned the shutout with 10 saves.
Rose got the start but only made one save on his first four shots before being pulled at 5:46 of the first with Thunder Bay ahead 3-0.
And in the Midget ‘AAA’ division, the Kings travelled west to face the host Kenora Thistles from the Manitoba Midget ‘AAA’ Hockey League for the opportunity to represent HNO at the Telus Cup West Regional in Steinbach, Man. from March 30-April 2.
The Thistles, who include Ian Tookenay, Colton Bodnar, and Jake Clendenning of Fort Frances, as well as Emo’s Sully Shortreed, were looking to stretch their season out after missing the playoffs by finishing 10th on the Manitoba circuit.
Kenora got off to a good start, with Matthew Pitchenese lighting the lamp on a set-up from Bodnar at 11:16 of the first for a 1-0 lead.
Little did the Thistles know that would be their only chance to celebrate the rest of the weekend.
Thunder Bay netted five unanswered goals the rest of the way for a 5-1 win.
Cody Bruchkowski tallied twice while Elijah Loon-Stewardson, Robert Tyska, and Jacob Brown added singles.,
Ryan Fanti had 23 saves for the win.
Tyler Szturm kicked out 37 shots in defeat for Kenora, which then lost Game 2 by a 2-0 count.
Jayden Wojciechowski (power play) and Brown accounted for the Kings’ goals in that one while Fanti was flawless in a 30-save effort.
Szturm made 38 saves in taking the loss.