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Nickel City lads making the most of their time at U15 AAA Championships

For a team that very few expected to even be here, the Nickel City U15 AAA Sons are making the most of their appearance at the 2024 All-Ontario U15 AAA Championships in Ottawa this week.

While it would be a major surprise to advance to the gold medal game on Sunday, the fact that they are entering their final two round robin games on Saturday (12:00 p.m. vs Sun County Panthers; 6:00 p.m. vs Thunder Bay Kings) with a chance to move on to the final four has to be considered a win for the young crew that won only three games in regular season play last year.

"We're really excited to have this chance to play in the All-Ontario Championships," noted defenseman Robert Landry. "I've won tournaments before but never been to something this big."

And for as much as the challenge of facing the GTA elite and other top teams from across the province can be daunting, Landry looked forward to trying to slow down some top forwards that are likely to catch the eyes of OHL scouts a year from a now.

"Down south, they like having the puck on their stick," he said. "They're not really physical and not really used to it. Up north, we get really physical - so we hope that they are not able to play their game."

Given the skill-set on the opposite side of the ice, that won't be easy - though Landry is already focused on the key elements to keeping these snipers in check. "You have to focus on a good gap (control) to angle them to the right place and make sure you're not looking at the puck - eyes on the chest," he said.

Up front, winger Janssen Fransen suggested that if there is an area where the Sons match up nicely, it could well be in the skating department - leading to the following game plan, in his mind.

"Get the puck deep at the red line and motor," he said. "Forecheck and go at them; hit them and try and get the puck to the net. We're a fast team and can compete with other teams."

Based on the scores to date, Fransen is not wrong.

Other than a tough 7-0 loss to the undefeated powerhouse that is the Don Mills Flyers (5-0 record - GF 22 / GA 2), the Sons have been in each and every game to date.

The Sons were clipped 3-1 by Ottawa Myers Automotive in game one (Fransen with the Nickel City goal midway through the second to tie the game at 1-1), but bounced back nicely to double up the Quinte Red Devils 4-2.

U14 AAA call-up Dacey Dupuis scored twice to lead the Sons attack with captain Harry Yeamans and Mikael Guerin chipping in with a goal apiece.

A slow start against the Ottawa Valley Titans as the NOHA champs spot their opponents a 4-0 lead going into the third before making things interesting with counters from Dacey Dupuis and Carter McAllister.

They will close out with a pair of winnable games versus Sun County (2-2-1) and Thunder Bay (1-3-1) with four place and a chance to play on Sunday still up for grabs.

The remainder of the Nickel City U15 AAA Sons' roster includes Carter Brownlee, Gillis O'Daiskey, Grady Dale, Carson Jewitt, Hunter Currie, Ty Dubreuil, Landen Lake-Rego, Leighton Pelletier, Sam Piette, Tanner Morris and goaltenders Tyson McMahon and Owen Lamothe.