THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay Kings under-18 punched their ticket to the TELUS Cup West Regional later this month in Virden, Man., after dispatching the Kenora Thistles in two straight contests over the weekend at Fort William First Nation Arena to claim the Hockey Northwestern Ontario AAA U-18 crown.
Saturday’s opener was tight until the late going of the second period, when Thunder Bay broke open a 2-1 game and skated away with an eventual 7-1 victory.
In Sunday’s match-up, it was all Kings as they downed the Thistles 9-1 to hoist the HNO district championship trophy.
By taking the best-of-three affair, it earns Thunder Bay a berth to the West Regional in Virden, which runs April 28 through May 1.
There, they’ll go up against the champions of the Manitoba and Saskatchewan AAA U18 Leagues as well as the host Southwest Cougars.
Currently, the Manitoba final is tied two games apiece between Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Wild with a fifth and deciding game going Saturday night in Brandon.
Over in Saskatchewan, the Notre Dame Hounds are up 2-0 in a best-of-five final with the Warman Wildcats.
Notre Dame won the first two match-ups in overtime (4-3 & 5-4) and will have chance to make another trip to the regional, if they take Game 3 Tuesday evening, in Wilcox, Sask.
If required, Games 4 & 5 would go Thursday and Saturday, in Warman and Wilcox respectively.
The winner there will move on to the TELUS Cup nationals U18 championship, May 16-22, in Okotoks, Alta.
Photo credit: Ryan Hill / picmephotographytbay.com