Team Indigenous has been invited back to Finland’s Universal Players Hockey Tournament next year, and might compete in the World Junior Championship, to be held in Norway this year.
Canada’s national Aboriginal youth hockey squad was a big hit at the Finnish tournament last August.
It placed fifth out of 12 teams with a 4-2 game record. It was the first time the team had played together.
The Finnish news covered the Aboriginal team extensively, and many locals were curious to learn about their First Nations cultures.
“They were the Cinderella team. They had a big impact on the tournament,” said Dolores Washipabano, who flew to Finland with her husband to watch their son Charly, 18, play with Team Indigenous.
Charly scored the final goal in a nail-biting overtime shootout in the final game of the tournament.
He plays with the Green Mountain Glades in Vermont, where he also attends college and works in a sports store.
Charly said playing with an all-Native crew was an incredible experience. “It was probably the greatest thing about it, since we came from the same background. It was very different to be playing on a team of Indians,” he said.
The team members, all teenagers, quickly gelled Into a tight unit under the direction of coach and hockey legend Ted Nolan, winner of the 1997 NHL Coach of the Year Award.
Charly said being coached by Nolan “was definitely quite an experience. He has been quite a rolemodel for quite a few