During the weekend of December 28 to 30,  the region’s top peewee hockey players represented Canada and northwestern Ontario at the Paul Bunyan International Peewee Hockey Tournament in Bemidji Minnesota. The team is coached by Rooke Pitura from Kenora, along with Corrie Trist and Jody Reid from Dryden.

F-Jeremy Reid – Dryden
D-Reidar Paquette – Dryden
F-Raiden Trist – Dryden
D-Brady Richards – Dryden
D-Reid Pitura – Kenora
D-Nolan Rawn – Kenora
F-Hudson Favreau – Kenora
F-Carter Peters – Kenora
G-James Sinclair – Kenora
F-Cameron Just – Red Lake
F-Kenray Gallagher – Red Lake
D-Jack Boehm – Red Lake
F-Teagan Wrolstad – Fort Frances
F-Royce Allen – Fort Frances
F-Dakota Cooper – Fort Frances
G-Hayden Beckett – Fort Frances

Game 1 against the Devils Lake Flames from North Dakota was a very tight game with the teams evenly matched. The Peewee AAA Paper Kings scored the opening goal from the point shot coming from Reid Pitura. Devils Lake answered quickly with 2 quick goals of their own. In the third period Devils Lake added a power play goal along with an empty netter for a 4-1 lead.

Coach Pitura commented, “This was a really fast, tight-checking game. The score was not at all indicative of the play, with a few bounces our way instead of theirs we could have been victorious."

Game 2 saw the Peewee AAA Paper Kings Face off against the Eveleth-Gilbert Golden Bears. The Bears scored the lone goal in the first period, added another in the first minute of the second period. This seemed to awaken the Peewee AAA Paper Kings, who then went on to score eight straight goals, before securing a 10-3 victory.

Coach Trist commented, “This was a bit of a scrappy game. We definitely started off slowly, but once we found our stride we were simply the much better team.”

Game 3 was against the hometown Bemidji team. This was a very physical, fast paced game. Bemidji held a 1-0 lead after the first period. Each team traded several chances in the second period with the Peewee AAA Paper Kings tying the game up with a nice goal by Hudson Favreau assisted by Kenray Gallagher. Brady Richards scored a beautiful solo effort with an end-to-end rush to put the Kings ahead 2-1. Hudson Favreau had a strong game and his tremendous hustle and effort was on full display, when he was able to fight of two checkers while securing the win with an empty-net goal.

The Peewee AAA Paper Kings had two wins and a loss in the round robin, which put them in a three-way tie for first place in their pool. Unfortunately, a goals for and against formula was used and the Paper Kings finished third in their pool. This set up a consolation pool semi-final with the Minot Wolves.

The Pewee AAA Paper Kings -- feeling a little let down -- came out pretty flat and early on were down 2-0. Making matters worse the Peewee AAA Paper Kings had 10 straight minor penalties against them. With tremendous grit and determination the Kings were able to kill off several penalties, and they actually tied the game up 2-2 in the second period. In the third period Tegan Wrolstad with a great feed from Jeremy Reid put the Pewee AAA Paper Kings ahead. The lead looked to be secure until a failed clearing pass resulted in the Wolves tying up the game with under two minutes to go. In the overtime the parade to the penalty box continued Bemidji scored the game winning goal on a 5-3 power play.

Coach Pitura commented, “The coaches could not be more proud of the effort these young boys put forth. We killed several penalties. Showed an incredible amount of courage to come back in this game despite the penalty trouble. Didn’t get the win on the score board but we learned a lot about our team, despite the loss I’m very happy with this group.”

The final game in the consolation round was up against Thief River Falls. The first period was scoreless thanks to James Sinclair who stopped three breakaways in the period. The first half of the second period was all Thief River Falls as they scored two quick goals. The Peewee AAA Paper Kings responded with two quick goals, and the game was tied after two periods of play. The third period was back and forth with each team trading goals 3-3 before Thief River pulled ahead with five minutes to go in the third. The Peewee AAA Paper Kings found a way to battle back, when Jeremy Reid tied it up late sending the game into overtime. Less than a minute in, Royce Allen scored the game winner and the Peewee AAA Paper Kings were victorious.

Coach Rooke Pitura was elated after the victory and stated, “It’s a real challenge trying to put together a team like this with players from all over the region. We only had a few practices together, but these boys have come together in a short amount of time and have embraced the fact that we are play for each other! Our goal is to challenge the Thunder Bay AAA Kings in March, when we host them in Kenora March 15, 16, 17 with a chance to go on to provincials. This is an awesome group of kids who are a true pleasure to coach.”

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