In a nailbiting shoot-out in the final game, Charly Washipabano of Chisasibi scored the winning goal to help power Team Indigenous to an impressive 4-2 game record in its first-ever outing in Tampere, Finland.
“I was very nervous at first when coach (Ted) Nolan called on me,” said Washipabano in an interview with the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal on getting back.
“But when I picked up the puck at the red line, it was just me and the goalie. When the puck hit the back of the net I was so proud. It was a big goal for me and a great victory for the program.”
At the end of the second period, Team Indigenous was behind 2-0 against host team Universal Players.
Refusing to give up, they managed to tie the game 2-2 with five minutes left.
The game had to be decided by a shootout.
Each team took five shots, but the lone scorer in the shoot-out was Washipabano.
“The boys made history there. It was extraordinary,” said proud mother Dolores Washipabano.
“They proved they were able to compete at an international level after only four or five practices,” she said.
Team Indigenous’s 4-2 record placed them fifth of 12 teams competing at the Universal Players Hockey Tournament, held from August 4 to 11.
Teams came from Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany and the U.S. Team Indigenous was the only Canadian squad.
The team was created by 1997 NHL Coach of the Year and former Red Wing Ted Nolan, who is also the head coach.
Nolan hopes the team will be the centrepiece of a national Aboriginal youth hockey program. He also wants to create a girls’ hockey program and national Bantam and Midget championships.