2009-10: Justin Kea played for the Central Ontario Wolves midget AAA program in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. He scored 22 goals with 22 assists. Kea was selected by the Saginaw Spirit in the first round (13th overall) of the OHL Priority Draft.
2010-11: Kea skated in 62 games in his first season with Saginaw and represented Ontario in the 2011 U17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored 2 goals with 6 assists and was minus-five with 49 penalty minutes for the Spirit. Saginaw reached the second round of the OHL playoffs after finishing first in the West Division. In ten playoff games Kea had 1 assist and was minus-one. In five games at the WHC he had 1 assist with 8 penalty minutes for the gold medal-winning Ontario squad.
2011-12: Kea returned to Saginaw for his second season. In 65 games he scored 3 goals with 11 assists and was minus-four with 76 penalty minutes. Saginaw again reached the second round of the playoffs before falling to OHL champion London. In 12 playoff games Kea scored 1 goal with 4 assists and was plus-three with 2 penalty minutes. He was ranked 93rd amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: Kea provided toughness and a scoring touch for Saginaw in his third OHL season with the Spirit. One of four players to skate in all 68 games, he scored 22 goals with 26 assists, both career highs, and was +12 while finishing second on Saginaw with 102 penalty minutes. Saginaw finished fourth in the West Division and was swept by league champion London in a first round playoff series. Kea scored 1 goal and was -5 with 7 penalty minutes in four playoff games. He spent time with the AHL’s Rochester Americans in April but did not appear in any games.
Seen primarily as a defensive forward, Kea found his offensive touch in his third year of OHL hockey. Though his offensive game will not translate to the NHL, his size and willingness to play defense opens up opportunities for him to play bottom six roles.
Kea will return to Saginaw to play out his fourth and final major junior season. He has impressed enough in camp that he should earn a contract from the Sabres following the 2013-14 season.