98 Island Stars Win Annual North American Hockey Classic Peewee AAA Championship in Winnipeg
98 Island Stars
Comox Valley talent help boost the 98 Island Stars to victory at the annual North American Hockey Classic Peewee AAA Championship in Winnipeg.
The ninth annual North American Hockey classic featured over 135 teams. After finishing sixth in the Mainland Cup and fifth in the Challenge Cup, the 98 Island Stars were cautiously optimistic when they visited Winnipeg June 15-19 to play in the Classic.
The 1998-born spring hockey team is made up of elite players from Campbell River all the way to Victoria including two of Valley’s very own, Niko Karamanis and Matteo Giomo.
After being pooled in the Black Pool of the AAA division the Stars posted a 3-0 record in the round robin with an impressive 34 goals for and six against. Many players had strong games including Karamanis who after three games led the 98 division in goals and assists.
When asked about his performance Karamanis said, “I’m very happy with my games so far, especially since I almost couldn’t play due to a flu bug. I want to thank Dr. Hamersley and the wonderful ER nurses at the Comox hospital who were able to rehydrate me with IVs just 2 days before the tournament. I still don’t feel great but that is forgotten when I step on the ice.”
Entering the semifinal game against the Manitoba Lightning, the Stars came out strong with three quick goals that seemed to catch the Lightning off guard and they were never able to recover. The Stars won that game 7-0.
The final had the home team 98 Island Stars facing the 98 Manitoba Metal. With both teams undefeated, the game promised to be a battle. The size of the Manitoba Metal was certainly a concern for the smaller but faster Stars team.
With no score yet in the middle of the first, the Metal took an undisciplined boarding penalty and the Stars’ power play made them pay. The Stars scored again before the end of the first to go into the second with a 2-0 lead.
The Metal came out strong in the second using their size advantage to create many scoring opportunities and forcing the Stars to take several penalties including a 5-on-3 in the middle of the second. The Stars’ penalty kill though was superb allowing only two shots on the 5-on-3 and finishing the period still up 2-0.
The third period saw the Stars score two more times to give them the 4-0 win and right to call themselves champions. They ended the tournament with an impressive 45 goals for and six against with Karamanis leading the team in points and finishing second overall in the AAA division.