Sault Ste. Marie is set to play host to a four-team, minor midget hockey tournament of champions this coming weekend. Included in the group are the three minor midget teams from the Great North Midget Hockey League.
North Bay Trappers, Sudbury Wolves and the host Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association’s Great North loop will be joined by the Thunder Bay Kings, who will represent Hockey Northwestern Ontario.
The teams will compete for the Northern Cup and games will be played at two Sault Ste. Marie rinks — the Essar Centre and John Rhodes Community Centre.
Following is a quick look at the three teams from the Great North. Team records are indicated in brackets.
North Bay Trappers (17-7-0, 34 points.) Forward David Campbell led all minor midget age players in the entire Great North — including those who played on any of the six major midget teams — in scoring with 24 goals, 12 assists, 36 points in 24 games.
A Sault Ste. Marie product, Campbell left home to play in North Bay for the 2017-2018 season.
Other players of note on the Trappers are big, high-scoring defenseman Pacey Schlueting, who potted 13 goals, 21 assists, 34 points from his blue line post and forward Eric Lafontaine, who put up 13-17-30 totals.
Goalie Reece Proulx was between the pipes for 12 of North Bay’s wins.
Sudbury Wolves (13-11-0, 26 points.) Dario Beljo topped the Sudbury scoring chart with 8 goals, 22 assists, 30 points followed by fellow forwards Gavin Brown with 11-12-23 totals and Hunter Brazier with 8-14-22 numbers.
Forward Ethan Masson led the baby Wolves in goals with 13.
Soo Thunderbirds (2-18-4, 8 points.) While the Soo scored just 48 goals in 24 regular-season games, its team discipline stood out as the Thunderbirds spent a mere 258 minutes in the penalty box, which is half of what North Bay was assessed.
So, credit to Soo head coach Jamie Henderson for running a disciplined program under the trying circumstances of a two-win season.
Thunderbirds who stood out over the course of the 24-game regular season included speedy forward Justin Mauro, who led the Soo in scoring with 9 goals, 7 assists, 16 points.
Also making an impact were defenseman Mateo Perri, who had a team-leading 11 assists and goalie Noah Zeppa, who posted a highly-respectable record of 2-8-4 on a team that finished 2-18-4.
The Soo’s other goalie, Tyler Greco, showed marked improvement over the course of the season for a Thunderbirds team that was widely out-shot most games.
Following is a schedule of games for the upcoming tournament.
Friday, March 2
12:00 noon – Soo Thunderbirds vs. Thunder Bay Kings at Essar Centre.
2:00 p.m. – Sudbury Wolves vs. North Bay Trappers at Essar Centre.
Saturday, March 3
10:00 a.m. – Soo Thunderbirds vs. Sudbury Wolves at John Rhodes Community Centre, rink #1.
12:00 noon – Thunder Bay Kings vs. North Bay Trappers at John Rhodes Community Centre, rink #1.
7:00 p.m. – Thunder Bay Kings vs. Sudbury Wolves at John Rhodes Community Centre, rink #1.
7:30 p.m. – Soo Thunderbirds vs North Bay Trappers at John Rhodes Community Centre, rink #2.
Sunday, March 4
9:00 a.m. – Semi finals, 1st place vs. 4th place at John Rhodes Community Centre, rink #1.
9:30 a.m. – Semi finals, 2nd place vs 3rd place John Rhodes Community Centre, rink #2.
2:30 p.m. – Gold medal game at John Rhodes Community Centre, rink #2.