ESTEVAN - The 2022 Centennial Cup national junior A hockey championship opened Thursday afternoon in Estevan with three games.
The Pickering Panthers, who won the Ontario Junior Hockey League championship, trounced the Superior International Junior Hockey League champion Red Lake Miners 9-2.
Pickering scored five times in the opening period, with Lucas LaPalm, Elijah Pilosof, Dustin Hutton, Benjamin Pickell and Ian Martin scoring for Pickering. Brady Harroun had two goals for Red Lake in the opening stanza.
Jacob Partridge scored for Pickering in the second, and Partridge, Martin and Ethan Doyle tallied in the third.
Zachary Roy and Andrew Ballantyne shared goaltending duties for Pickering, and Jaxson Taupert and Kiev Kineshanko were the Red Lake netminders.
The Flin Flon Bombers, who are one of two teams from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League competing in the tournament, defeated the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League's Soo Thunderbirds 6-1 in the second game.
Jaxon Martens and Drew Kuzma scored in the first period for Flin Flon, Jacob Vockler tallied in the second, and Michael Chaffay, Xavier Lapointe and Jaeden Mercier had goals in the third.
Michael Chaffay notched the Thunderbirds' lone goal.
Cal Schell was in net for Flin Flon, while Noah Metivier was the Thunderbirds' goalie.
In the final game, the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Brooks Bandits knocked off Collège Français de Longueuil 5-2. Longueuil is representing the Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Quebec.
Brooks, who won the tournament when it was last held in 2019, has been the top-ranked team in the country all year. Longueuil was the No. 2 team in Canada at the start of playoffs in March.
Dario Beljo, Hunter Wallace, Devin Phillips and TJ Hughes scored to give Brooks a 4-0 lead. Ryan McAllister also scored for the Bandits.
Maxime Gagne and Chris Roy had Longueuil's goals.
Ethan Barwick was in goal for Brooks, and Simon Berube was Longueuil's goalie.
Three more games will be played Friday. The Ottawa Junior A Senators of the Central Canadian Hockey League will play the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Dauphin Kings at noon, the Maritime Hockey League's Summerside Western Capitals will play the Thunderbirds at 4 p.m. and the host Estevan Bruins will meet Longueuil at 7:30 p.m.