Annual Cariboo Canucks tournament brings communities together

The Williams Lake Ice Devils - first place in the Youth 10-12 Division. (Photo submitted)

Thirty-two teams from throughout the province converged at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex during the weekend for the Eighth Annual Cariboo Canucks Aboriginal Hockey Tournament.

In all, 22 adult teams and 10 youth teams featuring upwards of 300 players competed in multiple divisions beginning Friday and wrapping up Sunday evening in Williams Lake.

Tournament organizer Cecil Grinder said the beloved tournament is a way to bring not just the community of Williams Lake and its surrounding areas together, but to also include people from the rest of the province.

“This was the biggest one we’ve had yet,” Grinder said of the tournament. “The youth just loved it, and for the Elders and women’s divisions — they were allowed to have non-native players on their teams — when you see these kinds of things happening like them inviting non-native players to play on their teams it brings communities together, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

“If we can get more people living in harmony with one another we are better off. That’s what it’s all about.”

Grinder said the tournament ran smoothly, and thanked all of the volunteers who helped make the weekend a success.

“Everything fell into place thanks to all the help we had,” he said. “Without the volunteers we can’t do it. My wife and I we were getting here at 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday and leaving at 11 p.m. It’s tiring but it’s well worth it.”

Beginning in the youth divisions, it was the Williams Lake Ice Devils bringing home first place in the youth 10-12 division, while the Western Longhorns took the prize in the youth 7-9 category.

READ MORE: Cariboo Canucks tournament coming up in lakecity

On the recreational side of things the division featured extremely competitive games throughout the weekend, with the local team, Just Cousins, bringing home the championship in a victory over Evil Empire (Dog Creek).

Tournament all-stars in the recreational division were Brady Fuller (Just Cousins), Raeyden Beauchamp (Xeni All Stars), Dominic Hodges (Just Cousins) and Lawrence Elkins Jr. (UNN Bears), Taylor Hemmond (Evil Empire) and goaltender Mike Garara (Evil Empire).

The women’s division final saw the Interior Storm lay a hammering on the visiting Kamloops side in the championship, followed by Julia Flinton (Interior Storm), Trishanna Dan (Native Daughters – Canim Lake), Katy Thorn (Kamloops), Brooke Call (Cariboo Stars), Zena Chelsea (Interior Storm) and goaltender Raylea Garland (Interior Storm) collecting all-star awards.

In the masters division, several late players were recognized by the tournament committee during the opening ceremonies and, longtime player Bruce Mack of Williams Lake was recognized by a team entered in the division in his honour.

“I want to thank Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars for the welcome at our opening ceremonies and Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair and Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse for speaking about those players who have passed,” Grinder said.

“Team Bruce Mack was made when one team pulled out. This was to recognize him for all the deeds he did for our First Nations communities in the area. He also mentored a lot of us when we were going through hard times … he taught us a lot about life, and we will always remember him for who he was.”

Mack, Dave Vilac, Dale King, Allen Alphonse, Jesse Bowe and Richard Christopher Sr. — all past players — were honoured at the tournament.

Team Bruce Mack, while making it to the championship in the master’s division, fell to a tough Williams Lake Longhorns squad with just 30 seconds remaining in overtime in what was an entertaining final.

“And in the elders division for 55+ — they don’t get a chance to skate at all, so this division was made for them to participate in our event,” Grinder said.

Masters all-stars were Earl Call (Team Bruce Mack), Greg Pigeon (Williams Lake Longhorns), Eric Hall (Sugar Cane Hurricanes), Vince Kozuki (Williams Lake Longhorns), Mike Grace (Team Bruce Mack) and Ryan Denault (Williams Lake Longhorns).

READ MORE: Cariboo Canucks to host annual tournament

Lastly, in the competitive division, a little bit of controversy made things interesting Sunday afternoon during quarterfinal semifinal and championship play.

After defeating the Grizzles (Merritt) to book their ticket in the championship, the Vancouver Serpents were carded for using an illegal player. As a result, the Grizzlies advanced to the championship and would face the winner of the Cariboo Canucks and the Vancouver Serpents in the semifinal.

There, however, a berth in the final wasn’t in the cards for the hometown squad as the Serpents went on to advance, before falling to the Grizzlies in the championship.

Competitive division all-stars are as follows: Blake Tarbell (Vancouver Serpents), Jamie Smith (Vancouver Serpents), Francis Johnson (Cariboo Canucks), Darren Alexander (Grizzlies), Ryan Ignace (Kelmuc Rebels) and Matt Brenner (Grizzlies).

At the tournament, Grinder also thanked his daughter, Tamara William, for inspiring him to start the tournament eight years ago when he said he’d let his passion and love of hockey slip away.

“She’s the one who suggested it and got me back into it, and I’m extremely grateful for that,” he said.

He also added he would like to thank the city for allowing the use of the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex during the weekend.

“It was a good event,” he said. “You see these types of things happening in the city with all these people here and it just impresses you.”



sports@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New cargo van for Williams Lake Salvation Army

Walmart Foundation helps fund purchase

BC Supreme Court hears how Williams Lake arrest leads to addict’s recovery

“I would also like to apologize for any harm I may have done”

BC VOTES 2020: Provincial election will have familiar duo battling in Cariboo North

The two candidates who received the most votes in 2017 will both be running in Cariboo North again

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Second positive COVID-19 test reported at Quesnel Junior School

The exposure dates for this case are Sept. 15-18

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Most Read