The fifth Annual National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) was held May 6-13 in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake and the community of Chateauguay. The community of Kahnawake and its people are to be commended for the great hospitality to the people from across this great land. As with last year, 18 teams participated in the male and female category from the following regions: Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario North, Ontario South, host Eastern Door and North (Quebec region), and Atlantic (made up of the four Atlantic provinces).
The defending Champion Eastern Door and North (EDN) female team completed the round robin portion of the NAHC with a perfect record of four wins no losses. They defeated Atlantic 6-0, British Columbia 6-0 in the first round, Atlantic 7-0 and Manitoba 4-3 to close out the round robin. However, due to goals for and against ratio, they were ranked second behind Ontario South.
In the quarter-finals EDN defeated Team Alberta to move on to its fifth consecutive semi-final. In the semi-final game Team Ontario North came out with a stellar performance defeating EDN 4-1. The game was close to the end with EDN pressing the last 10 minutes. In the bronze medal game, a visually nervous EDN team succumbed to Team Manitoba 4-1. Team Ontario South won the gold medal for the fourth time in five years, defeating Team Ontario North by a score of 5-0.
The Eastern Door and North male team had a roller-coaster ride through the week, defeating Team Northwest Territories 11-2 in game one, and losing 7-2 in game two to Team Ontario North – last year’s Gold Medal Champions. They then defeated Manitoba 7-5 before losing to Team Ontario South 4-3 to close out the round robin. Team EDN defeated last year’s silver medallist Team Atlantic 4-1 in the quarter-finals with their best effort of this year’s Championships but then lost 9-2 to Team Ontario South in the Semi-finals. In a close bronze medal game that was back and forth, Team Manitoba defeated EDN 9-6 to win the bronze medal. Team Saskatchewan captured its second title in five years defeating Team Ontario South 4-2.
Thanks to female Cree players Carol Ann Mapachee from Mistissini, Lee Anne Bosum from Oujebougoumou, Tyra Lynn and Wapikun Blacksmith from Waswanipi and Leonna B. Hester from Waskaganish and MALE – Clayton Happyjack and Tristin Awashish from Waswanipi, Graham Cheezo from Eastmain, Justin Otter from Wemindji for their hard work.
A special congratulatory note goes out to Vern Cooper from Waswanipi who was a standout player with this year’s Team Eastern Door and North. Vern was chosen 12th in the Ontario Hockey League draft by the Plymouth Whalers major junior team. Good luck to this very talented 15-year-old with his career! We will be supporting you all the way! Thank you to former Olympic Gold Medalist Alwyn Morris for fronting travel and accommodation costs to assist players at last minute due to pending commitments from entities such as the Grand Council of the Crees and others.
Saskatchewan is set to host the 2007 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships pending final bid approvals. Visit www.aboriginalsportcircle.ca for all scores and other Aboriginal sport information.