The maiden voyage for the 2015 – 2016 bantam AA King Miners was a journey due south to Killarney. The black and orange set sail long before dawn for a sun set battle with the Russell Raiders. A mere 10-hour jaunt (just another day for a team from the north) didn’t seem to faze the Miners who met the Raiders step for step. Chris Pynn started the adventure with a one –timer chance more glorious than a Paint Lake sunset but he couldn’t quite crack the goose egg. The puck time stayed even through the second period; unfortunately for the Miners the score didn’t and they found themselves down two. Teams traded goals in the third for a 3-1 final. Armando Evans was the lone goal scorer for Thompson on a bouncing shot from the just inside the blue.
First-game jitters and a sleep at the Erin Inn behind them, the Miners arrived at the Shamrock Center ready to do battle. Evans kept it rolling like the Brother Bear bus down from Thompson, scoring on a honey sweet breakaway pass from Murphy Krentz. Nathan M’Lot, Jadyn Paul, Jordi Pachakowsi and Matt Lamontagne set the tone for the game, delivering more hits than Adele’s new album. Pachakowski hit the scoreboard as the opposition delivering a shorthanded blow. With the Souris Elks on the defensive T-town controlled the play but didn’t put a lock on the score until much later than coach Shane MacDonald would have liked. It was awful close to the final buzzer when Aaron Haase neatly tucked one under the bar for a 3-2 final. Curtis Shymanski and Kale Mayor could both have been in Haase’s shoes, barely missing on doorstep chances better than any kid with a pillowcase on Halloween night. Defence coach Darren King sounded like he was hopped up on sugar describing the solid play of Nathan M’lot tirelessly dumping the puck in during the last minutes, effectively crushing the hopes of Souris like those chips under all the other candy in your Halloween bag.
The third chapter in the voyage to Killarney could be titled the Armando Evans/Ryan Monias chronicles with the two of them factoring into three of the four goals, although the most spectacular of the day came from the stick of Aaron Haase. He slid across the front of the net like it was the winning run in the World Series as he tipped an Evans pass high up in the cage. Jacob Enns finally unleashed his booming shot on a beauty feed from Evans for another of the Miners’ markers. The final two goals were a case of “second verse same as the first” with Ryan Monias stealing the puck to spring Evans on both. Netminder Skyler Szocs’s toe save to end the first and breakaway save in the second put an exclamation point on what was a near perfect performance. He turned the Boissevain Border Kings away like a rock wall does the incoming waves. The speed of blue liner Sam MacDonald relentlessly tracking down the opposition and forward Dylan Cripps pushing the puck back down ice with equal speed was like a super ball off that same rock wall, paving the road to a gold medal game.
The final chapter cast the King Miners in the role of villain, dressed in black, facing off against the home town Killarney Raiders. The mighty Miners wore it well, getting nastier as the game went on. A two-man advantage early proved fruitless as did a breathtaking breakaway for Pynn but soon after Evans harvested a goal on a scramble in front of the net. The Raiders, in turn, quickly took advantage of a powe play and the teams were back to square after the first frame. Early in the second Kill-town flashed some speed that the Miners struggled to keep up with, scoring two quick goals. Robert Dudas, a bolt of lightning, showed some electricity, charging up his team with a shot that was pure cheddar. Like a D.J. seeing the party start to get going Paul, Pachakowski and Haaws turned up the volume on some physical play. That got the dance floor moving with all the Miners following suit, including goaltender Tommy King who not only used his glove to stymie the Raiders but also to send a message to anyone who cared to dance in his crease. The speed versusmuscle dance boogied on in to the third when Evans showed his best moves, throwing one down to make it 4-3. In the blink of an eye, things went from a teen dance party to a metal mosh pit when Pachakowski took an unnoticed cross check to the neck and Chris Pynn was accidentally tackled by Stripes during a spirited discussion with the Raiders. That dance-off distracted the Miners long enough for Killarney to slip a couple past them including an empty net goal. The men in black put the sideshow behind them in time for Evans to tip in a Krentz point shot but by then the lights were on and the party was over. Killarney celebrated at home with a 6-4 final.
Head coach MacDonald along with King and Lucas Hanlon would have enjoyed wearing some gold but overall for a maiden voyage, the good ship bantam AA performed very well, handling most every gust that came from the other side of the ice. With no grain elevators to attract their attention or that of the local RCMP, the sails will be set for gold at the Don MacLean Tournament in Thompson Dec .11-14.