Previewing the NAPHL: Thunder Bay Kings
September 15, 2015
As new members of the North American Prospects Hockey League, the Thunder Bay Kings are gearing up to participate in their inaugural season in the NAPHL.
Both the Kings minor midget under-16 side as well as their major midget U-18 squad will look to impress as they take to the ice in this their first year of NAPHL action.
No stranger to producing top-end talent in the 26 years the Kings organization has been in existence, Thunder Bay will look to continue that trend in the NAPHL as they look to move their players up to the next level.
Among the Kings alumni are current NHLers, in the Staal brothers Eric (Carolina Hurricanes), Marc (New York Rangers) and Jordan (Carolina Hurricanes) as well as three-time Stanley Cup champion and Olympic Gold medalist Patrick Sharp (Dallas Stars).
Eric Staal is also a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation’s exclusive Triple Gold club having won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic Gold for Canada and a World Championship title.
Jordan Staal has a Stanley Cup ring from his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and a World Championship to his credit with Sharp having a silver medal from the Worlds along with his three Cups and his Olympic gold.
The following is a preview on the Kings two NAPHL entries in 2015-16:
THUNDER BAY KINGS 16U
Heading up the U-16 Kings as they make their NAPHL debut is a coaching staff who are also all alumnus of the Kings organization.
Co-head coaches Brendan Haber and Mitch Maunu served as assistants on last year’s squad and have now moved up to take over the team this season.
Haber played his entire AAA career with the Kings, which included starring for the U-18 side his final two seasons before moving on to play junior hockey for the Stratford Cullitons.
As for Maunu, he went on to skate in the Ontario Hockey League with the Windsor Spitfires for four years before going on to play five season of Canadian university hockey at Lakehead in Thunder Bay.
He was also a fourth round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL Draft.
Assistant coach Trevor Kell was also drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004 and went on to play three seasons in the OHL with the London Knights and one with the Sarnia Sting.
From there Kell played seven seasons professionally before now beginning his coaching career.
Markus Leikkari rounds out the coaching staff as he will work with the club’s goaltenders.
There are seven players on the U-16 roster that helped the Thunder Bay Kings capture a silver medal at last season’s all-Ontario bantam championship.
Among those is forward Jett Leishman, who finished second in overall scoring among all seven competing teams at the provincials.
THUNDER BAY KINGS 18U
After a one-year hiatus, the Kings will once again ice a U-18 team.
This highly successful program has produced two Canadian national midget championship sides as well as over 100 players who went on to complete either professionally, in the NCAA and CIS ranks.
Head coach of this year’s edition of the team is Rob DeGagne, who has coached locally in Thunder Bay for many years.
As a player, DeGagne competed in the OHL for four years with the then North Bay Centennials averaging well over a point-per-game.
Working with him as his primary assistant coach will be John Kelly while Adam Fabiano, Eric Rogers and Robbie DeGagne round out the coaching staff.