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Michael Normore-Wells found himself in unfamiliar territory playing against bigger and stronger players in the biggest showcase hockey tournament of his career.
He may have been a little surprised to find most teams boasted bigger players and deep rosters with skilled players, but the left winger with the Western Kings of the provincial AAA bantam hockey league didn’t look out of place when the Kings participated in the 2019 Chronicle Herald Ice Jam major bantam and midget hockey tournament held in Halifax over the weekend.
Despite his team dropping all four games in the tournament, the 14-year-old Grade 9 student at Corner Brook Intermediate picked up two goals and two assists and was the only Kings player named to the tournament’s second all-star team in a field of 28 major bantam squads.
A pair of major midget Western Kings also found themselves on an all-star list. Defenceman Kyle Robinson and goaltender Lucas Wiseman were named second team all-stars in their division.
Normore-Wells was happy to be recognized for his efforts, but he believes he was the lucky one of the group because he believed all of his teammates stepped it up a notch in Halifax.
Hockey is a first love for the young athlete, although baseball is a close second.
Normore-Wells is currently in the prospects pool and is competing for a chance to represent his province at the 2021 Canada Summer Games with the baseball team.
Being named to the second all-star team gave him a confidence boost. He has seen players who played in the Ice Jam go on to play for Team Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation's World Under-20 Championships — the World Junior tournament — play college hockey in the United States or play pro hockey.
“It opened my eyes that I can get there and compete with the players at this level,” he said. “If they’re not much different from me I guess I can do what they can do if I push a little harder.”
Sports is a big part of his life and he decided to pick up officiating this year for some pocket money and a way to educate himself about the rules of the game and the importance of conducting yourself properly when on the ice.
However, sports isn't the only thing that occupies Normore-Wells' time. He always enjoys the time spent away from the rink because he wants to find balance in it all.
He lives in Humber Village where he has embraced the outdoors by going snowmobiling through the woods or booting around on his quad. There is also an artistic side to him. He plays the trumpet in the school band.
One person who wasn’t surprised to see him named to the all-star team was Kings coach Brad Penney.
"I think Michael’s skillset was obvious to anybody who has an eye for a good hockey player,” Penney said Monday afternoon.
Penney said his young forward had a strong tournament and always brings passion to the rink because he loves to win and do his best so it was nice to see him recognized for his effort.
“When he comes out and he has it in his mind that he’s going to go out and perform to the best of his ability then he can be a very effective player,” coach said.