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The Next Big Thing: The Bitty Brothers, Kyle Kukkonen and Justin Janicke (OMG)

By Tony Scott, 07/30/13, 8:45AM CDT


Justin Janicke drives hard to the net against Rosemount in the Eden Prairie Tournament.

Go watch Osseo Maple Grove or the 02 Euro Americans play a game and within five minutes, two kids stand out right away.  Kyle Kukkonen and Justin Janicke. I call them KK and JJ.  As first year Squirts last year, their line produced clutch goal after clutch goal (early, mid and late into the season)…not bad for a second line.  What makes these two special is their ability to move the puck.  At some point early in their hockey career they learned how to move the puck.  Passing the puck is an easy skill to teach, but what is hard to teach is when to pass, when to skate it and when to just fire it.  The Bitties, tabbed that for their smallish size, just know.  Their vision and hockey instincts are  terrific for 10 year olds (JJ just turned 10 a few weeks ago).

Most skill players at the Squirt and PeeWee level like the frosting but rarely take the cake (an old coach phrase for guys that don’t like to mix it up). These two kids are not afraid to dig in the corners. In fact, that is where opposing coaches hate the Bitty Bros the most.  One coach said to me, “those two do things my Bantams can’t figure out, and they are first year Squirts…”

The OMG Squirt A team is going to be a great team this year. In addition to the Bitty Bros they have superstar and YHH Squirtacular MVP Brock Faber, big man Cal Thomas, Ethan Elias and Henry Nelson returning to the team. That is a lot of firepower for one team.  The skating OMG’s will return most their coaching staff from last year (Erik Kukkonen, Jay Faber, Tim Thomas and Victor Nelson III).  They should be a fun team to watch next year.

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