Hockey players from Thompson and other Northern Manitobans who played midget hockey in the city were in action across the province last weekend as the Manitoba Junior Hockey League opened its 2012-13 season on Sept. 21.
Wabowden’s Kajon McKay made the biggest impact for his team on the first weekend of play, recording a pair of goals, including the game-winner, as his Portage Terriers got their second win in as many games, defeating the Winkler Flyers 4-3 at home on Saturday after edging the Waywayseecappo Wolverines 3-2 on the road to open the season.
McKay, who was named most valuable player of the MJHL Turnbull Cup championship series last year after helping his team win its fourth league championship in the past five seasons, evened the score with his first goal against Winkler, which came 1:20 into the third period with the Flyers up 1-0. He then capped off a four-goal outburst by the Terriers with his second just under five minutes before the end of regulation. Portage led 4-2 at that point but Tanner Jago scored in the final minute to make McKay’s marker the difference-maker. The Wabowden native, who was recently named the Terriers’ new captain, was chosen as the game’s first star. He was held off the scoresheet on opening night against the Wolverines. Another Norman Northstars alumnus, Robert Briem from Thompson, was on the ice for Waywayseecappo, recording no points in the contest. He was also held pointless on Saturday night in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Virden Oil Capitals, though he was assessed a penalty for closing his hand on the puck.
Five players who spent time on the Norman Northstars’ roster saw action in a two-game home-and-home series between the Swan Valley Stampeders and OCN Blizzard on Friday and Saturday night. On Swan Valley’s side were Justin Valentino and Dylan Hykawy of Thompson, reunited after Hykawy was traded from the Blizzard to the Stampeders following his first year in the MJHL. The pair, who were the Northstars’ leading scorers in their final season with the midget AAA squad, didn’t have much offensive success in a pair of losses to the Blizzard, 5-2 on the road on opening night and 3-0 at home the following evening. Hykawy recorded an assist in the season-opener on a goal by Dylan Favell, but that was all the offence either could muster over the weekend, though both were assessed two minutes each for roughing in the season’s first game.
On the opposition side, ex-Northstar Camacho Lathlin had the game-winner for the Blizzard in the season-opener, scoring 15:41 into the game to give OCN a 3-0 lead that was enough to earn the Blizzard two points. Defenceman Brad Swampy, who spent some time playing midget AAA in Thompson, had an assist on Lathlin’s goal.
The following night, neither Lathlin nor Swampy were in the line-up but last year’s leading scorer for the Northstars, Wabowden’s Eddie Bayer, was, though he was not involved in any of the Blizzard’s three goals.