Northern Manitoba’s top boys’ U16 and U18 teams are planning to hit this ice this year with rosters full of ‘Flonners.
The Norman Northstars AAA U18 squad are planning have a half-dozen Flin Flonners on the team. While the SJHL continues to twiddle its thumbs, Hockey Manitoba affiliated leagues are heading toward the start of the season, including the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League - the league the Northstars play in. The league currently expects to begin play in October, between Oct. 9-Nov. 1, and will play a schedule of between 24-36 games split into either two or three divisions. The Northstars are the only AAA U18 team in Manitoba based north of the 53rd parallel but due to a recent rule change with travel restrictions to northern Manitoba, teams will be able to travel up to Thompson to play games.
This year’s Northstars roster features six players from the Flin Flon area - defenceman Connor Slugoski, goalie Odin Church and forwards Morgan Daneliuk, Magnus Pearson, Evan Reid and Nolan Rideout.
The U16 Norman Wolves have also named their roster, including yet more local talent. The team announced their roster Sept. 13, with five local players joining the club.
Gage Gogal, Paxton Moore, Ryder Mucha, Nole Pearson and Reid Slugoski each made the final cut, joining a list of 19 total players, mostly from either Thompson, The Pas or the Flin Flon/Creighton area.
Moore will likely enter the season as the team’s starting netminder, being the only returning goalie from last year’s squad. Moore saw a ton of shots last season, averaging more than nine goals against per game.
Mucha will be a player to watch for the team down the line. Born in 2007, Mucha will be one of the team’s youngest players but also one of its most accomplished. Back in 2017, Mucha suited up for the Saskatchewan Jr. Pats in the famed Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament in Edmonton, an annual tourney that has featured tons of elite young players who later advanced to the NHL. Mucha scored twice during his six games in the tournament.
Pearson, a forward, is the sole returning skater from last year’s Wolves team of the Flin Flon group. Pearson played 36 games with the Wolves last season, scoring nine points. Gogal played last season on the bantam AA Bombers, finishing the season with 12 assists in 19 games.
The team’s leading returning scorer from last year will be The Pas’ Matt O’Toole, who put in 14 points in 36 games.