Jonathan Cheechoo returns to the pro ranks

Moose Factory’s Jonathan Cheechoo has returned to the ice as a member of the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons, the farm team for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Cheechoo, who scored 56 goals in 2005-2006 to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, joined the Barons at the end of the NHL lockout and has made an immediate impact. Cheechoo has scored six goals over his first 12 games while assisting on nine others. The good start includes a club-record, five-point performance during a February 1 game against the Barons’ division rival Charlotte Checkers.

The end of the lockout saw a number of young Oiler stars, including Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, return to the NHL club. However, Cheechoo’s arrival should help OKC stay in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot in the AHL’s Western Conference.


Season ends for Nippissing Lakers

The Nippissing University Lakers’ men’s hockey team’s hopes for a CIS National Championship were extinguished February 23 when the Lakers were defeated two games to none by the UQTR Patriotes in the second round of the playoffs. Led by Waswanipi’s Vern Cooper, the Lakers surprised many by knocking off the defending CIS Champion McGill Redmen in the first round.

Cooper set the stage for the upset, scoring the winning goal on home ice in Game 1. The Redmen bounced back in Game 2, scoring early and often to defeat the Lakers 4-1. But the Lakers prevailed in a Game 3 nail biter, disposing of the champs in close 2-1 victory. Unfortunately, their playoff success ended there.

Cooper, who enjoyed a successful five-year career playing junior in the OHL before a brief pro career with the Missouri Mavericks of the CHL, still has four years eligibility remaining in the university hockey ranks, and is expected to be an important part of the growth of the Lakers’ young hockey program.


Registration opens for Minor Hockey and Broomball Tourney

Registration is now open for part two of the 21st Annual Cree Minor Hockey and Broomball Tournament, taking place in Val d’Or April 11-14. Part 1 of the tourney took place in November.

Over 90 teams are expected to take part in 12 Open Hockey and Girls’ Broomball categories. Open Hockey categories include Pee Wee (Recreational and Competitive), Bantam (Recreational and Competitive), Midget (Recreational and Competitve), Teen Girls, Women’s Junior, and Junior Hockey (Recreational and Competitive).

Teams competing in the Junior Hockey categories will be competing for cash prizes ranging from $500 to $3000.

Girls Broomball categories include Cadet, Midget, Juvenile and Junior.

Deadline to register is Friday, March 22. For more information, contact Freddy Schoeneich at 819-825-2648, or visit the Cree Hockey Players Facebook page.


Waskaganish New Arena Grand Opening

Waskaganish’s much-anticipated new arena will host its grand opening on the weekend of March 11. The festivities will include a torch relay from the Sarah Stephen Memorial Arena, a number of exhibition hockey and broomball games, an on-ice reunion of the original lineup of the Waskaganish Wings, performances by local artists and entertainers, and special guest appearances by radio personality and Montreal Canadiens fan favourite Chris “Knuckles” Nilan and by three-time Olympic gold medallist Caroline Ouellette.

The highlight of the weekend will be the unveiling of the name of the new hockey facility. For more information contact the Waskaganish Recreation Department or visit the Grand Opening event page on Facebook, which you can find via the Cree Hockey Players Facebook page.