Ryan Hampton and Dallas Mosbeck, who both played for the local Bantam B•Macs “AA” rep team last season, have cracked the Kenora Midget “AAA” Stars.
The pair survived the final cut at the Stars’ training camp Sunday and were placed on the 22-man roster (56 players originally tried out for the team).
Head coach Don Osborne said he is excited to have both players in his lineup this season.
“They are both really young kids in their first year [of Midget],” he said yesterday. “We see some good things in Ryan, he has good size and a good shot. He has some small things he has to work on but we’ll work with him on that.
“We think he’ll improve well enough that he’ll help our hockey club,” he added.
Hampton is currently fifth on the Stars’ depth chart on the blueline but Osborne felt there was no reason why he couldn’t move up as the season progressed.
As for Mosbeck, Osborne said he was impressed with the size and strength of the husky forward, who is more of a crash-and-bang, work-the-puck-in-the-corners type of player.
“He’s a big, strong kid who’s not scared to hit kids and he, too, has the potential to get better very quickly although he still needs to work on his skating,” Osborne noted.
“But that’s a problem for around 90 percent of the kids when they first come here,” he added.
Osborne also was thrilled two players from this area made his team this season. In fact, while it always has been a regional team that looked to attract players from all over Northwestern Ontario, that hasn’t always been the case.
He hopes that changes in the future.
“We went out to Emo, Rainy River, Dryden, Atikokan, and Ignace to talk about our program because we wanted to make a point that the Stars aren’t just a Kenora team.
“I think that hurt our program the last couple of years because we didn’t always get guys out from around the region,” noted Osborne.
“It’s good to see kids out here from Emo, Fort Frances, and Ignace.”
Lynn Kellar, president of the local minor hockey league, said the Fort has sent as many as three or four players to play in the Midget program in Kenora in past years but couldn’t explain the drop in interest.
He also said the experience of playing at the “AAA” level is one that cannot be matched.
“I guess the choice of playing high school hockey or Midget ‘AAA’ is always there but the Midget hockey is much better hockey, and there’s more of an exposure for the kids to get noticed,” Kellar remarked.
The Stars, who finished a disappointing 11th in the Manitoba “AAA” league last season, open their exhibition schedule this weekend when they play a home-and-home series against the Eastman Selects.
But Osborne feels this team is much better—and more experienced—than last year’s, and that their improved speed should result in a few more wins this season.