Kapuskasing Flyers Bring Their Winning Ways to Gatineau
The AAA Kapuskasing Flyers of the Great North Midget League finished 2011 on a high note, putting together a combined record of 8-1-1 in both GNML games and games played at the Waterloo Golden Puck Tournament, recently held in Waterloo, Ontario.
There are a number of Cree boys on the Flyers roster, including Tanner Cheechoo, Braden Etherington, Cameron Etherington, Brennan Nesrallah and Sheehan Moore. Braden Etherington and Brennan Nesrallah are key components of the Flyers offense with Nesrallah currently sitting second on the team and fifth overall in the league scoring race with 20 goals while Etherington is currently second on the club in points per game; averaging close to 1.5.
The Flyers begin 2012 at the Kiwanis Midget Tournament in Gatineau, Quebec. This year marks the 47th edition of the Kiwanis tourney, which brings together Midget AA and Midget AAA teams from across Canada and around the world. This year, the Kapuskasing Flyers are one of 40 entries in the tourney. Games are played at three arenas in the Gatineau area, with all final games taking place at Robert Guertin Arena, home of the QMJHL Gatineau Olympiques.
The Kiwanis Midget Tourney is also an important date on the calendars of hockey scouts from teams in the QMJHL, OHL and WHL. They will be assessing the young talent in advance of the junior leagues’ drafts later this spring.
At the end of the Kiwanis Midget tourney, the Flyers will head back to Northern Ontario where they go on the road for three GNML games, including two games versus the Sault Ste. Marie North Stars and one game against the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves, before returning home to face the Kirkland Lake Legion 87s on January 21.
At the time of writing, the Flyers were riding a five-game winning streak, placing them in second place in the GNML, three points back of Sudbury.
Online Resources for Cree Hockey Nuts
In recent months, a number of online resources have been developed to provide Cree hockey fans with news and background on Cree hockey players at every level of the game – from kids playing minor hockey, up to junior and university, and all the way up to the minor and major pro leagues.
If you are on Facebook, do a search on “Cree Hockey Players.” Cree hockey fans from a variety of regions across Canada administer the page, including Joshua Bosum, Jason Coonishish (Administrator of the Quebec Section), Patrick Buffalo, Greg W. Desjarlais and Waskaganish Recreation Director Charles J. Hester. The Cree Hockey Players page now has 3,600 followers and provides links to stories, photos and newsbites on Cree hockey at every level in Canada, the US and Europe.
Another site that focuses exclusively on First Nations hockey is NativeHockeyNews.com. Based in Manitoba and written and edited by Philip Paul-Martin, NativeHockeyNews.com offers features, interviews and news stories focused on exclusively on First Nations teams and players. In addition to a section dedicated to the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, NativeHockeyNews.com includes sections focused on native players in major junior hockey, university and college hockey, pro Hockey and the NHL. The site is also developing audio and video content focused on native hockey, as well as a regularly updated Twitter feed that offers content for all hockey fans.
Coming Soon to a Radio Near You – Hockey Night in Cree
The Wawatay Radio Network (WRN) recently announced they will begin broadcasting NHL games in the Cree language. WRN, which is based in Timmins Ontario, aired the first of seven games on Saturday, January 7, when the Detroit Red Wings visited the Air Canada Centre to face their Original Six rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs. While the complete broadcast schedule has not yet been released, WRN has announced the final broadcast of the season will be April 7, when the Leafs visit Montreal to face the Canadiens; a game that may be critical to the Leafs’ playoff chances this season.
A recent report by WRN indicates that the games will be called by veteran broadcasters George Nakogee and Jules Spence. According to its website, Wawatay Radio Network provides radio programming in the Aboriginal languages of Northern Ontario: Ojibway, Oji-Cree, and Cree. WRN also provides an English version of its news broadcast to that portion of the Aboriginal population who do not speak their ancestral languages.
While the Wawatay Radio Network can be found on your radio dial at 89.9 FM in Sioux Lookout and 106.7 FM in Timmins, listeners can also tune in to games online. For more info on how to catch your next hockey game in the Cree language, visitwawataynews.ca/radio.
Silas Neeposh named Top Rookie Defenceman
Kahnawake Condors’ received an early Christmas gift when he was named Rookie Defensive Player of the Week in the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League. Neeposh, an 18-year-old from Mistissini, is in his first season with Kahnawake where he was proven to be a minute-munching defenceman who brings some offensive punch both to the Condors’ power play and 5-on-5 play.
During the week of December 18, the young defenceman scored 3 goals in 2 games, including two power play markers, while adding a rating of +2. Neeposh began his award-winning week by scoring two goals in the Condors’ 10-2 victory against the Vaudreuil-Dorion Mustangs. Two days later he again lit the lamp in Kahnawake’s 5-2 over Lachine. So far this season, Neeposh ranks 12th in scoring on the Condors, third among defensemen, with a record of 4 goals, 7 assists and 11 points in 29 games. Neeposh beat his teammate, goaltender Maxime Belanger, to take home the top defensive award.
The two wins were big for Kahnawake as they struggle to secure a playoff spot. The team currently sits in 10th place, five games under .500 with only 14 games remaining in the regular season. They face Longueuil January 13 and Princeville two days later.
Alex Cooper Heads West to Join the OCN Blizzard
In player news, as reported last month in the Nation, Waswanipi’s Alex Cooper has joined the OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The Blizzard acquired the Hockey Canada playing rights of the 19-year-old forward from the Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, in exchange for future considerations. The 5’ 11”, 181-pound Cooper had 1 goal and 10 penalty minutes in 7 games with the Beavers this season. For his junior career, Cooper has put up 29 points and 68 penalty minutes in 49 NOJHL games with Temiscaming, North Bay, and Blind River, as well as 13 points in 14 games with the SIJHL’s Fort William North Stars. During his AAA midget career, Cooper helped the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves capture the 2008 Telus Cup National Championship. That 2008 season saw Cooper record 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points in just 30 games. Cooper has also represented Eastern Door & North in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.
Struggling Forestiers Begin 2012 in the Montreal Area
The Midget AAA Amos Forestiers begin 2012 in the middle of the pack, sporting a recording of 12-11-3-5, good enough for 10th place in the 15-team Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League. The club, which includes Alex Hester of Waskaganish, has struggled to string together more than a pair of wins, compiling a 6-7-2 record in games played since the beginning of November, during which time they failed to string together more than two wins in a row.
Les Forestiers will be at home in Amos for back-to-back games versus Gatineau January 14 and 15. The Forestiers have a win and a loss against Gatineau this season.
Hockey Homecoming for PEI Rocket’s Deverick Ottereyes
Rumour has it that a homecoming of sorts is planned for late February when the PEI Rocket visit the Val d’Or Foreurs for a QMJHL matchup at the Air Creebec Centre. The game will represent the first time that Waswanipi’s Deverick Ottereyes will take to the ice in Val d’Or in a QMJHL uniform. Talk around the CREE Senior Hockey Tournament in December suggested that a busload or three of hockey fans from Waswanipi and other communities might converge on Val d’Or that weekend to cheer for Ottereyes.
As a rookie with the Rocket, Ottereyes has been used largely in a defensive role, playing third line minutes as well as being used on the penalty kill by Rocket coach Gordie Dwyer. In 26 games this season, Ottereyes has tallied two assists with a -5 rating and 12 PIM on a Rocket team that is in a rebuilding mode. He recently sat out a couple games after being hit in the side of the head by a puck during warm-up prior to a recent game with the Quebec Remparts. However, as of December 30, Ottereyes was back in the Rocket lineup.
The Foreurs have struggled with attendance at home games this season, so that there should be plenty of room in the stands for Cree Hockey fans making the trip to cheer on the their hometown boy.