Thunder Bay returns to the ice

Thunder Bay Kings major midget goaltender Eric Vanska, centre, defends during last year’s Telus Cup national championship at Fort William Gardens. Vanska is back for another campaign with the Kings this season.

Two of the four teams in the Thunder Bay Kings AAA hockey programs will start their respective 2019-20 seasons on home ice this weekend.

The bantam (age 13-14) and minor midget (age 15) rep squad welcome their Rink Academy Nationals counterparts from Manitoba at Fort William First Nation Arena.

Game action will begin this evening at 6:30 p.m. as Thunder Bay’s bantams meet the Nationals before the two under-16 squads tangle at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday’s slate has four games on tap with the bantams starting at 8 a.m. before finishing up over on rink No. 2 at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, minor midget play sees the Kings and RAN meeting for the second time, at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, then wrapping up the weekend with a 4 p.m. faceoff on rink No. 1.

As for the Thunder Bay Kings major midgets, the defending North American Prospects Hockey League under-18 champions played a three-game set in Duluth last weekend, going 2-0-1 overall.

They began with a 0-0 draw against the Minnesota Wilderness before clipping the Duluth Northern Wings twice by scores of 7-1 and 6-2.

The major midgets are coming off a year where they hosted the Telus Cup nationals and will be fielding a roster with plenty of new faces.

Darrin Nicholas is back at the major midgets coach while Matt Valley will guide the minor midgets. Jeff Ricciard is behind the bench of the bantam AAA Kings.

Walter Keating will lead the Kings peewee AAA club. That team will begin play later this month with a pair of tentatively scheduled exhibition contests against the Thunder Bay bantam AA Queens.

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