Junior Stingrays capture ice hockey tournament in Canada

Front row left to right. Hunter Morgan, Ryan McGovern, Nic Thibodeau, Jake Thomson, Case Cook, Sheldon Hehr, Blake Mons. Back row left to right. Marco Pineda, Jake Herman, Owen Sawyer, Coach Matt Mons, Luke Holston, Coach Jason Hehr, Jared Mangan, Alexei Heroux, Brody Smojice, Nate McCabe.

South Carolina youth ice hockey has arrived in Canada.

The Junior Stingrays, a team made up of 11- and-12-year-olds out of the Carolina Ice Palace, captured the Major Peewee A Division of the Bell Capital Cup last month in Ottawa, Canada.

The tournament, one of the largest youth tournaments in North America, featured more than 300 teams during the four-day event. There were 16 from across the globe in the Junior Stingrays A Division. The teams in the division were from Hong Kong, Finland and the Ottawa area.

The Junior Stingrays, who are 23-3-1 this season, went 6-1 during the tournament, which included a 3-0 victory over the Nepean Raiders in the finals at the Canadian Tire Center, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

“It was a great team effort,” said Junior Stingrays co-head coach Matt Mons. “All three lines contributed to the victory, and our defense was outstanding throughout the tournament. I think we surprised a lot of people during the tournament. I don’t think there were many people in Canada that thought a team from South Carolina would be able to play with some of the top youth programs in Canada. The boys played their hearts out and never quit even when we were down in a couple of the games.”

Forward Nic Thibodeau, whose father Ken played for the Stingrays in early 1990s, led the tournament in scoring with 12 points. Jake Thomson tied for third with eight points and Jared Mangan added six points. Goaltender Blake Mons led the tournament in wins (6), shutouts (2) and had a goals against (1.17).

After going 3-1 during the round-robin play, the Junior Stingrays beat the Rideau West Carleton Crusaders, 3-2. The Junior Stingrays beat the No. 1 youth team in Ottawa, the Ottawa Sting, 7-2 in the semifinals.