“Speeding down the ice on Saturday with their famous three man combination rush, the visiting Prince George hockey team found the net of the Alkali Lake Indians within the first half minute of the game.
“Returning the compliment Alkali flashed down with their unbeatable five man perpetual motion Catherine Wheel and evened the score with a whipping shot from Louie Amiele the Centre Marvel.
“On good ice the game dazzled back and forth in as clean and fast an exhibition of hockey as the local fans have seen since Nero learned to fiddle, until Perry added another for Prince George. David Johnson defence star completed the score of four to two for Alkali Lake …
“This victory puts Alkali Lake into the League playoffs with Quesnel. Two games will be played, one on each home ice, total goals to count, and on their present form it looks as though the (Braves) will cop the League championship.” – excerpts from the Williams Lake Tribune, Feb. 19, 1931
The historic Alkali Braves hockey club was recently honoured by the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants.
The Giants, hosting the Victoria Royals in its season opener, donned a newly-designed Braves’ tribute jersey in recognition of the contributions made to the game by one of the province’s original First Nations hockey teams.
The sweater, featuring a lazy cross on the crest, is the brand of the Alkali Lake Ranch where many of the hockey players on the Braves’ team worked.
The Alkali Braves, led by Alec Antoine (known as Sylista), won a B.C. Northern League title in 1931, earning them the chance to play against the powerhouse Vancouver Commercials later that year. Given zero chance of competing against the Commercials by Vancouver hockey pundits and sportswriters, the Braves stormed into the big city losing game one by just one goal.
The Commercials swept the Braves in the two-game exhibition, but the opportunity to play against a professional team earned the Braves respect throughout the province for their toughness and sportsmanship.
“The courage the Alkali Lake Braves displayed paved the way for players like Fred Sasakamoose, who became the first man from a Native Reserve to appear in the National Hockey League,” the Giants said in a release.
“The Giants are honoured to pay tribute to yet another great story in B.C. hockey history, having also donned the jerseys of the Vancouver Millionaires, the Vancouver White Spots, the 1944/45 Vancouver Canucks, the New Westminster Bruins, as well as two version of custom ‘Mr. Hockey’ jerseys honouring Giants’ part-owner Gordie Howe.”
The Giants wore the jerseys as part of the kick off to Vancouver’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Sept. 18-21, which held hearings Wednesday to Saturday at the Pacific Coliseum, the home of the Giants.
Despite the fresh look on the ice the Giants weren’t able to fend off the Royals, falling 4-2. The following night, however, the Giants returned the favour stealing a 2-1 win from the Royals in Victoria.
Alkali Lake Braves 1931 roster
Joe Clemine, Pat Chelsea, Mathew Dick, Joe Dan, David Johnson, Alec Antoine, Louie Amiele, Peter Christopher, Alfred Sandy and George McKenzie (coach)