The Fifth Annual Cariboo Canucks First Nations Hockey Tournament didn’t disappoint, as hundreds of fans and players packed the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex throughout the weekend.
And with $3,000 on the line for the winner of the competitive division, the host Cariboo Canucks battled a game Sugar Cane Hurricanes squad in what turned out to be a 4-1 championship win for the hosts.
For their second-place effort, the Hurricanes walked away with $2,000, while the third place Alkali Braves — last year’s tournament champions — claimed $1,000.
The tournament also featured eight other divisions including masters, elders, recreational, women’s and four youth divisions.
On the women’s side, after reaching the final for five consecutive years, the Cariboo Stars finally claimed a championship after they edged the Williams Lake Road Runners for the title.
In masters final, it was the Longhorns upending the visiting Chase Blades for the 5-4 win.
Williams Lake, meanwhile, defeated the Alkali Renegades for the title in the elder’s 55-and-up division.
On the recreational side, the Xeni All Stars defeated the Shuswap Flyers of Chase to win the tournament.
And in the youth categories, the Longhorn Juniors beat the Williams Lake Snipers in the 13- to 15-year-old division, the Native Daughters upended Tl’etinqox in the 10- to 12-year-old division and the Lil Hawks beat the Lil Longhorns in the seven- to nine-year-old category.
There was also a fun division where kids ages four to six played exhibition matches.
Tournament organizer Cecil Grinder said he was thrilled with the turnout, and thanked all of the volunteers, security and everyone else who helped make the tournament a success.
Grinder added he was proud of his three host teams — the Carboo Canucks, the Cariboo Stars and the Longhorns — for their winning efforts.
“Duane Alphonse, the captain of the Canucks, he assembled the club for me and he did a real awesome job of doing it,” Grinder said.
“I was too excited to even talk on the mic at the end of the tournament with all three of my teams winning.”
He also credited the effort of Canucks’ goaltender Christian Stump for his play during the weekend.
“He was outstanding this whole tournament,” Grinder said.
The Alkali Braves, meanwhile, paid tribute to their late friend Warren Lulua by putting the initials ‘WL’ on their jerseys for the tournament. Lulua had passed away just a few days before the tournament.
“I was pretty impressed by that,” Grinder said.
In both the elders division and women’s division, Grinder opened up the tournament to non-native players, as well, in an effort to bring the community closer together.
“That’s what I’m trying to do with this tournament more and more,” he said.
“The non-native players really appreciated this. Sometimes I feel like quitting because it’s so much work to organize but I do it for them, the kids and the people.”
He also thanked his wife, Doreen William, for being the backbone of the whole tournament.
“Next year I’m going to try to make this more open to our non-native people,” he said.
“For the Braves doing that (with their jerseys) and the volunteers from Alkali who were a huge help too, a big thanks to them. That just impressed me.”
Following the tournament, Grinder presented awards to divisional MVPs for their play.
The following are the winners of the best three forwards, the best two defencemen and the best goalie in each division:
Forward: Glen Camille (Canucks)
Forward: Anthony Robbins (Braves)
Forward: Lane Wycotte (Hurricanes)
Defence: Braden Boyd
Defence: Craig Camille
Goalie: Christian Stump
Forward: Stephanie McLean (Stars)
Forward: Chantelle Beadman-Rolph (Road Runners)
Forward: Megan Cook (Stars)
Defence: Julia Flinton (Stars)
Defence: Laurel White (Road Runners)
Goalie: Tamara William (Stars)
Forward: Wendal William (Xeni)
Forward: Lincoln Yamarn (Flyers)
Forward: Emmet Beeds (Xeni)
Defence: Sheldon Paul (Flyers)
Defence: Tyrone Seymore (Flyers)
Goalie: Trevor Robbins (Xeni)
Forward: Bruce Andrews (Williams Lake)
Forward: Chuck Johnson (Alkali)
Forward: Ron Doreing (Williams Lake)
Defence: Rob Harrison (Alkali)
Defence: Kelly Kohlen (Williams Lake)
Goalie: Wayne Dick (Alkali)
Forward: Brian Harries (Blades)
Forward: Bruce Myers (Longhorns)
Forward: Sherman Mack
Defence: Derek Stump (Longhorns)
Defence: Ryan Muldoe (Blades)
Goalie: Mike Judd (Longhorns)