‘Star’ gazing suits district players fine

There’s no place like home, but Kenora’s not a shabby alternative.
That’s the feeling of the six district-based players who make up almost a third of the roster of the Kenora Stars Midget ‘AAA’ hockey team, which earned a 2-1 exhibition victory over the Thunder Bay ‘AAA’ Kings at the Ice for Kids Arena here Dec. 29.
Co-captains Tyler Barker and Dan MacIntyre, forwards Jamie Davis, Scott Bridgeman, and Tanner Kaemingh, and defenceman Cody Dittaro comprise the sextet who decided to forego high school hockey and instead test their mettle in the ‘AAA’ ranks.
It’s been an especially good year for MacIntyre, who recently was named to the mid-season all-star team in the Manitoba Midget ‘AAA’ League.
“I think the calibre of hockey is higher in Midget ‘AAA,’ especially when it comes to the pace of the game,” said Davis, who has had an intriguing year in his second season with the Stars.
He began the campaign with the team, but abruptly left the squad before returning to the fold several weeks ago.
Davis wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons for his departure, other than to say, “Things weren’t working. But there’s a different atmosphere now. Guys want to be at the rink now. They want to play.”
Davis’ role is to be an offensive catalyst for the team, which he displayed with some outstanding rushes and puck-handling during the game here against the Kings.
He also got a big kick out of having familiar faces on hand for one evening after competing elsewhere the past two years.
“It was awesome to come home,” Davis enthused. “To be able to skate in front of friends and family was nice.”
While a little home cooking settled nicely in their stomachs, the district contingent has nothing but praise for their adopted hometown.
“It was tough to move away from home at 16 years old,” admitted Dittaro, who is in his first year with the Stars. “But the guys on the team are so good to each other, and the people in Kenora really make you feel at home.”
The big selling point for suiting up with the Stars this season, however, was the fact Kenora is hosting the Air Canada Cup national Midget championship April 19-25—meaning the Stars have an automatic berth at the tournament.
“There’s going to be lots of scouts there, and it’s going to be a big opportunity to show our talents,” said Barker, who scored the first goal against the Kings on a set-up from Kaemingh.
“I think we’ve got what it takes to go a long way.
“We started off slow in the Manitoba ‘AAA’ League this season [2-8], but we’ve only lost one of our last 15 [heading into last Tuesday],” he noted.
“We’re communicating better, and the guys are getting used to each other.”
Davis, whose return has been a large part of the Stars’ revival (currently 11-11-3-2 and in seventh place in the league standings), agreed.
“I definitely think we can be a force in this tournament,” he remarked. “If everyone commits to their role and we do all the little things right, we’re going to be in good shape.”