By Jennifer Thurbide
Two local Pee Wee hockey players will suit up on the Northwestern Ontario All-Star Team this season.
Team administrators made their final selections public last week including 11 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders. Jordan Baranesky, who currently plays for the Howey Bay Hawks, will represent Red Lake as a forward and Red Lake Legion player Sean Gula will join the defence lines. Players were chosen from an August training camp that included 54 players from across Northwestern Ontario and eight goaltenders.
“Finding out I made the team was one of the most exciting moments of my life,” described Baranesky on Nov. 29. The 12 year old has been on skates since he was three years old and he says he expects this new opportunity to teach him to be a better hockey player “not just physically, but mentally too.”
Gula echoed his excitement at the opportunity saying “I expect this level of hockey to be fast and hard hitting. The best thing about hockey is being part of a team and playing with my friends.” Gula, who is currently 11, also started his hockey career in Mini-Mites at the age of three.
Although the boys play on opposing teams during the regular season, they regularly join forces while playing for the AA Red Lake Rockets that practices locally once a week.
The All-Star Team is expected to practice in Vermillion Bay throughout the winter and will enter the Tournament of Champions scheduled for Feb. 7-10, 2013 in Brandon, MB and the All Ontario Pee Wee Championship April 8-13, 2013 in Thunder Bay.
Red Lake District Minor Hockey Association Pee Wee league convenor Denise Rogalinski said last week the organization is “really” proud of the two youngsters noting “this is a unique opportunity that doesn’t happen very often for local players.” Previous Red Lake skaters to be recruited for the AAA team include Brett Jeffries who is Assistant Captain for the AAA Major Midget Kings based out of Thunder Bay and current Neepawa Natives defencemen Ryley Pace.
While on the road with her son this past weekend, Ryley’s mom Karen Pace offered encouragement to the young players and their parents noting [Sean and Jordan] will meet some great friends on and off the ice. It is something for parents to be proud of as it does take dedication and hard work to keep going to the next level of hockey and still enjoy it.”
The Northwestern Ontario All-Star Team will include forwards Ian Tookenay, (Dryden), Ethan Carlson-Jordain, (Dryden), Kendyn Faragher, (Dryden), James Gushulak, (Dryden), Eric Pitkanen (Dryden), Sam Brunton (Dryden), Carter Tresoor (Kenora), Jared Neniska (Kenora), Jordan Barensky (Red Lake ),
Quinton Loon-Stewardson (Sioux Lookout), and Cortez Favot (Sioux Lookout). Defencement include Jayme Caron (Kenora), Sean Gula (Red Lake), Matthew Binghuis (Sioux Lookout), Cole Alan (Fort Frances), Colton Bodnar (Fort Frances) and Byron Stewart (Fort Frances). Jacob Parker (Kenora) and Matti Booth (Fort Frances) will be minding the net.
The team is coached by Kenora’s Dan Reynard and is assisted by Mike Allison and Kip Miller.