A Williams Lake ball hockey team of seven Shuswap First Nation members aptly named the Hitmen punched their ticket June 20-21 to the Hockey Night in Canada Play-On nationals.
The team of Wilfred Robbins, Jordan Sellars, Willie Sellars, Francis Johnson, Tim Evans and Donovan Nicholas — the majority of whom play for the Central Interior Hockey League’s Lac La Hache Tomahawks — went unbeaten in six games in the men’s elite division at the tournament in Kelowna, widely considered the highest level of street hockey competition in Canada and the largest four-on-four street hockey tournament.
The team played two games June 20 winning 5-4 and 5-0, plus one another by forfeit to push them into the single elimination round June 21.
There, they won 10-3, 5-4 in a shootout and 7-6 in the final.
Nicholas lit the lamp with a buzzer beater in the final to seal the tournament win for the Hitmen.
The Hitmen, who were put together by Dog Creek’s Gil Duncan, have been attempting to qualify for nationals for the past five years and have travelled to Edmonton, Alta., Calgary, Alta., Vancouver and Kelowna.
The team said they’re excited for the chance to finally compete for a national championship, the Redwood Cup, which takes place in Lethbridge, Alta., Oct .1-3.
Prizes for last year’s elite division national champions totalled $40,000 with $25,000 going to the winning team.
Play On street hockey involves the host city shutting down more than one kilometre of its roadways and houses 20 to 50 separate street hockey rinks. Games run simultaneously throughout the weekend.
Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On tournaments feature hundreds of teams and thousands of players and participants in separate divisions in both men’s and women’s divisions.