Cecil Grinder stands behind the bench as head coach at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex during a a previous Cariboo Canucks First Nations Hockey Tournament in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo)

Cecil Grinder stands behind the bench as head coach at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex during a a previous Cariboo Canucks First Nations Hockey Tournament in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo)

Cariboo Canucks hockey tournament back on home ice Dec. 16-18

Williams Lake hockey fans will be able to enjoy the First Nations hockey tournament once again

The Cariboo Canucks First Nations Hockey Tournament will return to Williams Lake ice Dec. 16, 17, 18, 2022.

A local hockey tournament tradition this will be the ninth annual, having been on pause for two years.

Originally started by Cecil Grinder, he said he looks forward to seeing players back on the ice in the lakecity.

“My daughter inspired me,” said Grinder of starting the tournament over a decade ago. His daughter Tamara Williams played ‘AAA’ in Prince George and she asked him “Dad, why don’t you start a tournament for the people?”

He did just that and despite the work involved, he doesn’t want to miss a thing and he looks forward to offering these opportunities to expand Indigenous sports.

“For me it’s just putting smiles on peoples faces, seeing people I don’t usually see that much come out and meeting new friends,” said Grinder.

The tournament will take place at the Cariboo Memorial Complex rinks, taking over both rinks for much of the three days.

Eight teams from across the province will face off in the competitive division, which has prize money up for grabs: $3,000 for the first place team, $2,000 for second, and $1,000 for third. One non-Indigenous player is allowed per team in the competitive, recreational and masters (40-plus) divisions, and the women’s division is open to non-Indigenous players.

The rec division has six teams, four of which are local, masters has four teams, three of which are local, and women’s division has four teams, two of which are local.

Puck drop on Friday will happen at around 1:45 p.m. and games will go until 10 p.m. Saturday, games will run all day from 6 a.m. until about 10 p.m. There will also be a ceremony on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. to recognize four people who have passed away who were players or supporters of the tournament in the past.

Sunday games will end and prizes will be given out around 2:30 p.m.

While in the past, there was a youth division as well, due to limited ice times, the youth division will not be included this year.

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ruth.lloyd@wltribune.com

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