Team Manitoba only played .500 ball hockey in the round-robin, but they won when it mattered most at the Under 17 boys nationals last weekend at Wesbild Centre.
After posting a 2-2 record in the four-team preliminary round, Manitoba doubled the B.C. Thunder 4-2 in the championship game Sunday afternoon. They advanced to the gold-medal game by outgunning the West Coast Wolverines 6-4 a day earlier.
Christian Stockl powered the Manitoba offence in the final with a three-goal, one-assist performance. Teammate Kurt Keats chipped in with 1+2 in support of netminder Erik Pion, who recorded 20 saves.
Nick Gondos handled the scoring for the Lower Mainland-based Thunder. Netminder Jas Mahli made 17 stops.
In Manitoba’s Saturday semifinal, Remi Laurencelle fired four goals and Stockl added 1+3 against the Wolverines. Jeremy Mager played set-up man with three helpers.
Zach Ellis (1+2), Lucas Morrow, Bakashi Gill and Blake McCullogh provided the offence for the West Coast crew, while Keven Petruka kept his team competitive with a 29-save effort.
Pion made 13 saves for the win.
In the bronze-medal game, Bakashi and Ellis each collected a deuce as the Wolverines stuffed Team Saskatchewan 5-1.
Morrow, with a single, and Josh Bortignon, with three assists, added to the effort. Wade Brenner recorded 12 stops.
Saskatchewan’s Connor Navrot collected his team’s lone goal, and netminder Jeremy Heinrich posted 20 saves.
The Thunder went 4-0 in preliminary play, posting identical 3-1 wins over Manitoba, a 3-2 decision over the Wolverines and a 7-3 thumping of Saskatchewan.
West Coast went 2-2 and Saskatchewan went 0-4.