Midget “AA” team may suit up next year

The Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association board will soon be looking at the possibility of fielding a “AA” Midget team that would play an exhibition schedule with teams from Minnesota by as early as next season.
The “AA” Midget team concept is the brainchild of Tom Koski, who said the idea was bandied about last year but finally reached the table of the association when he made a presentation to the board back in January.
Koski said he was still awaiting word back from the board as of Friday but FFMHA president Lynn Kellar said the letter already is in the mail.
“The board is supportive of the concept but it has to come back to the board and then be proposed what’s available,” Kellar said Monday afternoon.
“It would be nice to have [the team] because it would provide a higher level of hockey for those players who don’t make the Muskies,” he added.
Koski said the team would play against junior varsity teams in Minnesota and act as a “feeder system” for the Muskies.
“So many good players go down the tube after playing [“AA” Bantam rep hockey],” he reasoned.
Eleven of the 17 players on this year’s Bantam “AA” B•Macs squad will be graduating to the Midget level next year.
Kenora currently has both a Midget “AAA” team that competes in a Manitoba league as well as the Kenora Broncos, who compete in the NorWOSSA high school circuit with the Muskies.
LuAnne Caul, convener of the local Midget league, said just one house league team, consisting of 25 players, currently plays out of Fort Frances.
That number is down slightly from two teams last season but Caul warned they were just a few players short of being able to make up two Midget teams again this year.
Still, many would argue that league suffers miserably in terms of talent when compared to the Bantam rep level players.
But the problem right now, said Caul, is the fact the kids have a tough time finding different competition at the house league level throughout the season–leaving many players uninterested in the latter stages.
“The kids get bored playing the same teams,” she said, adding the Midget team here has played games against other ones from Rainy River and Emo, as well as the B•Macs.
They also hosted an eight-team tournament in early January which attracted teams from Atikokan, Dryden, and Thunder Bay.
But Caul predicted the new “AA” rep team wouldn’t have a direct affect on the Midget house league because most of the players would come from those who have graduated from the Bantam program.
Muskie head coach Glen Edwards said although the new program wouldn’t “hurt” his hockey team, he admitted it wouldn’t really help either because the Bantam B•Macs already act as the Muskies’ developmental team.
“It always becomes a problem when you reach down and take a number-one centre from a Bantam, or in this case, a Midget team,” he said. “They’re not going to be too happy. The ideal thing for us would be to have a junior varsity team where you have control of the kids.
“But that would be hard to get with the cost and the ice time,” he warned.