Soo Indians major midgets are off to Lansing this week for a Michigan Amateur Hockey Association qualifying-round series.
Starting on Friday, the Indians will play the Lansing Capitals in a best-of-three series and the winner will advance to the MAHA state championships, to be held in the Detroit suburb of Taylor beginning on March 12.
The Indians played 52 games this 2013-2014 season as an independent team playing against top major midget competition from Ontario, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.
Coached by former Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League bench boss Pat Carricato and well-managed by the well-seasoned Mike Kaunisto, the Indians fashioned an impressive record of 29-22-1.
Kaunisto, who owns, operates and manages the Indians, has plenty good to say about the job Carricato and his players have done so far this season.
“Patty has proven himself to be an exceptional development coach,” said Kaunisto. “He’s the coach we needed to help bring our program forward.”
“As for our players, we are one of the youngest major midget teams around and to win the number of games that we have against so many good teams is a credit to our kids for the strides and improvements they have made,” Kaunisto added.
The Indians were dormant during the 2012-2013 season and Kaunisto, Carricato, assistant coach Jerry Harwood and director of player personnel Rick Corbiere spent weeks and months preparing for a return to the ice for this 2013-2014 campaign.
Carricato paid tribute to his players for the progress they made along the way in posting that 29-22-1 record.
“We were a game or two below .500 at Christmas and to come back the way we did against such strong competition says a lot about our kids,” said Carricato.
But Carricato is far from satisfied.
“We want to go into Lansing and win that series,” Carricato said evenly. “Our goal is to make it to Detroit for the state championships.”