THUNDER BAY, Ont. – We are just four days away from the start of the TELUS Cup West Regional, presented by Windsor Plywood, which runs Thursday through Sunday at Fort William First Nation Arena.
Joining the Hockey Northwestern Ontario champion Thunder Bay major midget Kings will be the Winnipeg Wild and the Notre Dame Hounds, winners of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League and Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League respectively along with the HNO finalist Kenora Thistles.
Here’s a look at the SMAAHL champs, the Notre Dame Hounds:
THE SEASON: Perennial power Notre Dame ran the table in the Saskatchewan AAA midget playoffs going an impressive 9-0 enroute to their provincial title.
The Hounds began with a three-game sweep of Saskatoon Blazers in round one outscoring them 16-3 in the process.
From there they put the broom to the Swift Current Legionnaires in semifinal action while notching 13 goals and giving up just six against.
Moving on to the final, Notre Dame kept rolling as they needed just the minimum to defeat the Prince Albert Mintos and win the title and earn a trip to Thunder Bay.
A trio of tight-checking contests there saw the Hounds come away victorious by scores of 3-1, 3-2 and 3-2.
The club was equally impressive in the regular season as they rolled to an exceptional 39-2-3 record to finish first overall in the 12-team SMAAHL standings.
POINT PRODUCERS: Notre Dame boasted the top three scorers in their playoffs and five of the top six.
Leading the way was Brad Morrisey, who was nearly a two-point-per-game player as he picked up 17 in nine outings on five goals and a dozen assists.
Teammate Luke Mylymok was right behind him with 16 points as he tallied four times and helped set-up 12 others.
Nolan Renwick finished third in postseason numbers with 13 points, including a team-high nine markers.
Quinn Schmiemann and Ethan Ernst were fifth and sixth respectively on the Hounds with 12 and 11 points to their credit.
Mylymok paced the club in the regular season with 61 points in just 34 games, which was seventh-best in the league. This included a team-high 32 goals.
Schmiemann and Nolan Renwick had 52 points while Morrisey followed with 51.
GOALKEEPERS: Riley Kohonick was a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs while posting a stingy 1.50 goals-against average along with a .920 save percentage.
Aaron Randazzo meanwhile went 3-0 with a 1.67 GAA and a .919 save mark.
The duo were also tops in the regular season as they led the way among SMAAAHL netminders.
Kohonick was first in wins (20) against just three losses, average (1.67) and shutouts (6) while finishing second in save percentage (.931).
As for Randazzo, he went 19-2-0 with a 1.62 GAA and a save mark of .916. He also posted three shutouts.
NOTRE DAME NOTES: The Hounds have won the West Regional six times over the years, including winning a title in Thunder Bay back in the mid-1980s. … The head coach of the club is Devan Praught while his assistant are Kevin White and Adam Chernick. … Notre Dame has won four TELUS Cups/Air Canada Cups national midget championships over the years including going back-to-back in 2009 & 2010. … They also have two silver and two bronze medal finishes to their credit. … They notched a league-high 195 goals during the regular season and gave up the fewest at just 67. … Their last loss came back on February 11 when they were edged 2-1 by the Tisdale Trojans. … All five of their setbacks, including overtime and shootouts, were all by just one goal. … Currently 22 Hounds alumni are playing, coaching or working in the NHL, including Jaden Schwartz, Morgan Rielly, Jordan Eberle, Sean Couturier, Tyler Myers, and Joe Colborne while ND alumni Barry Trotz, Jon Cooper, James Patrick, and Rod Brind’Amour are now coaches.
Awaiting the West Regional winner will be a berth to the TELUS Cup Canadian National Midget event April 23-29 in Sudbury, Ont.