A talented Oujé-Bougoumou Midget A’ team, also made up of players from Waswanipi and Mistissini, suffered a major blow as they lost one of their supporters in a car crash during a trip to the Inter-regional hockey championships in Farnham. The tragedy was evidently too much to bear as the team went on to lose in the tournament semi-finals.

Maggie Capississit-LaCroix from O-J was killed April 7 in the vehicle accident on highway 167. She and five others were on their way to the tournament, near Montreal, to see her son Joey.

At 11 am, their van tried to pass another vehicle at km 152, between La Dore and St-Felicien. The Surete du Quebec said the driver lost control and ended up in a water-filled ditch. Capississit-LaCroix died at the scene and two others were taken to Chibougamau hospital.

Still, the team managed to win its first two games at the championships. “The first game we won 7-2 against Gatineau,” said a sombre William Saganash, OJ’s coach. “Then we played Repentigny and won in overtime 8-7.”

But they lost the next game, an April 9 semi-final match up against Delson, 11-2. The team’s focus was clearly not on the game.

“We lost because of what the kids were going through,” said Saganash. “They were depressed and couldn’t focus on the game itself. We had about 5 or 6 players in the penalty box and we lost.”

Most of the players on the team were related to Capississit-LaCroix, Saganash noted.

“Her son Joey came with the team and played with us, but I knew it was hard for him to stay focused. If this wouldn’t have happened I think we would have made it all the way. There were a lot of scouts from Midget AAA and Junior and they said we would have won the whole tournament.”

The tournament pitted regional championship teams from Quebec against each other for hockey supremacy in the province.

Several team members went to the funeral in O-J April 10 wearing their jerseys in a show of respect to LaCroix, who was a huge supporter of Eenouch hockey.

Despite the terrible tragedy, Saganash chose to look on the bright side. “I was happy with the turnout at the tournament. Most of the kids will be receiving tryouts for other camps next year. We had about seven kids who were scouted,” said Saganash, whose son was invited to Amos to try out for Midget AAA.

The team’s leading scorer was Martin Nakogee. He had 5 goals 3 assists in the OT game against Repentigny alone, along with the winning goal. Overall, he had 8 goals and 3 assists.