TELUS Cup Countdown: 8 weeks until Thunder Bay hosts national midget championship
#LSN_Sports 1982-83 Andrews midgets 1st local side to medal at event
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO - February 27, 2019 (LSN) As the Thunder Bay Kings, in conjunction with Hockey Canada, Hockey Northwestern Ontario and the Thunder Bay Minor Hockey Association, busily prepare and gear up to host the 2019 TELUS Cup Canadian National Midget Championship, April 22-28, at the Fort William Gardens, it brings back recollections of past success clubs from the Lakehead have achieved at previous events.
The first Thunder Bay team to medal at the then Air Canada Cup was the 1982-83 Andrews midget side that captured the bronze in Ste-Foy, Que.
That year was the last time every province in the country was represented with 12 teams competing that featured nine provincial title holders from across Canada as well as three from Ontario (TBAHA, Ottawa District, Ontario).
From 1984 on, five regional champions and a host side made up the field at the midget nationals, including this year’s TELUS Cup in Thunder Bay.
Back in ’83, the Andrews rolled through the round robin as the only unbeaten team going 5-0.
Quarter-final play saw Thunder Bay knock off Corner Brook from Newfoundland 8-5 before being upended by perennial midget hockey power and the eventual Air Canada Cup-champion Regina Pat Canadians 6-2 in the semifinals.
Regrouping, Andrews bounced back to thump the Sherwood Park Chain Gang of Alberta 6-1 in the bronze medal game.
That Andrews squad featured the late Moe Irving as its head coach, Jim Montroy as his assistant and trainer Larry Wood while leading the club offensively was the trio of future long-time NHLer Tony Hrkac along with Murray Nystrom and Donnie Porter.
Among the defencemen were Wayne Berlinquette and Jamie Kompon, who is presently an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets and has two Stanley Cups to his credit on the coaching staffs of the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
Forward Tim Tamblyn and Berlinquette were alternate captains while the club’s goaltenders were Patrick Szturm and Justin Malloy.
As team captain Hrkac would go on to be the top scorer at the ’83 ACC and Porter was named Most Valuable Player.
From there Hrkac went on to star at the University of North Dakota where he won the Hobey Baker Award in 1987 and set a NCAA Division I single-season record of 116 points, which still stands today.
He went on to skate in 758 NHL games, including winning a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1998.
As for Nystrom, he has spent nearly 20 years coaching university hockey and is presently the bench boss of the Lethbridge Pronghorns, who are hosting this years U Sports Canadian men’s nationals next month.
Meanwhile, Thunder Bay’s major midget Kings, who are the host team of the 2019 TELUS Cup are readying themselves beforehand to compete in the HNO AAA District Playdowns vs. the rival Kenora Thistles.
That best-of-five series begins March 15 in Kenora for games one and two before shifting to Fort William First Nation Arena for the remainder of the series the following weekend.
The HNO title holder with then head to Tisdale, Sask., for the TELUS Cup Western Regional April 4-7.
While already knowing they have their place secured in the nationals, Thunder Bay will look to become the fifth Kings’ side to medal.
In their four previous national midget event appearances, they won gold in 1995 and 1997 and earned the silver in 1992 and 1996.
TELUS Cup game ticket packages and volunteer information are both available via the club’s website at thunderbaykings.com