They are holding multiple practices per week ahead of the upcoming Ontario Hockey Federation championships in which they will represent the Northern Ontario Hockey Association and Sault Ste. Marie at the provincial level.
Following a recent title tilt triumph at the NOHA Tournament of Champions, the Soo Major Atom AA Jr. Greyhounds will have the distinction of representing the region at the OHF championship event, which is slated for April 12-14 in Belle River.
To get to the OHF championships, the Soo squad won the NOHA tournament by posting a perfect record of 5-0 that included a 4-1 win over the host Nickel City Sons to take home the title.
Throughout the 2018-2019 season, the Major Atom AA Jr. Greyhounds from Sault Ste. Marie played up a level against AAA opponents, including participation at the International Silver Stick Hockey Tournament in Sarnia.
Among the AAA teams that the local Major AA Atoms played and held their own against over the course of the 2018-2019 season were the Toronto Marlboros, Toronto Red Wings, Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs and the American-based Krivo School of Hockey.
Major Atom AA Jr. Greyhound players (all have 2008 birth dates) include goalies Dalton Hoornstra and Payton Melchiorre, defensemen Hayden Joseph, Cameron Kontulainen, Owen Sanderson, Carter Kucher, Luca Blonda and Colton Huckson and forwards Espen Escasa, Aiden Atkinson, Cole Wreggitt, Gavin Killoran, Brock Chitaroni, Danny MacDonald, Evan Headrick, Nikolas Rossetto and Nathan Dupuis.
The Major Atom AA Jr. Greyounds are coached by Terry Chitaroni. David Doucette is the associate coach, while Michael Caruso, Dave Headrick, Nathan Hebert and Chris Huckson are assistants. James Sanderson is the trainer and the manager is Ray Escasa.
As the head coach, the 46-year old Chitaroni has an impressive hockey background from his playing days.
Chitaroni starred for the New Liskeard Cubs of the Great North Midget Hockey League as a speedy forward before playing four full seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Sudbury Wolves.
Regular season and playoffs included, Chitaroni scored 109 goals in a Sudbury uniform and finished his OHL career as the Wolves captain. He became a fourth-round, National Hockey League draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs and played three full seasons for their American Hockey League affiliate before playing more pro hockey in Germany.
Now working and living in Sault Ste. Marie, Chitaroni is at the helm of the Atom AA Majors. He talked to Hockey News North about the direction the team opted to take.
“Prior to the season starting, the coaching staff sat down and discussed which direction we should take the team,” Chitaroni began. “We had several choices, to play AA tournaments or do we possibly play AAA.
“It didn’t take long to decide AAA but where do we play was the question. Well, the staff took a bold route and decided to not only play AAA but to attend the top AAA tournaments in Ontario.
“We challenged our kids right from the beginning of the year to become better players and have them understand how to challenge themselves,” Chitaroni continued. “We understood this could possibly work against us considering the teams we would be facing, however the kids overwhelmed us and became the talk of all three tournaments we attended.”
Chitaroni then referred to the fact that, “throughout the season, the staff realized we were coaching a special group of kids who were willing to work as individuals and most importantly as a team.
“As we head to the OHFs, the team will proudly wear the Soo Greyhound logo,” Chitaroni concluded.