The Sixth Annual Cariboo Canucks First Nations Hockey Tournament is in the books.
Teams competing in youth, elders, recreational, women’s and competitive divisions squared off Friday to Sunday at the Cariboo Memorial Recreational Complex at the annual event for bragging rights, prizes and cash rewards.
Elders division winners were the Cyroties, who beat Williams Lake, 6-3.
The women’s final saw the Cariboo Stars shutout the Tl’etinqox Hawks, 7-0.
In the recreational final it was the Williams Lake Longhorns defeating the Xeni All Stars, 5-2.
On the youth side the Warriors were crown champions.
Sunday afternoon showcased a highly-competitive final between the six-time finalists, the Cariboo Canucks, and the Sugar Cane Hurricanes.
There, the Hurricanes staved off a late onslaught of pressure from the Canucks to hang on to a 4-3 victory, the tournament championship, and a $3,000 cash prize. For their second-place effort the Canucks brought home $2,000.
Following the tournament organizer Cecil Grinder thanked all the players, the fans and the volunteers for making the event another great success.
Grinder started the tournament six years ago as his daughter, Tamara William, had been climbing the ranks through the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association and wanted to play on an all girls team.
“I’d kind of retired from hockey, thinking I could kind of slide out the back door,” said Grinder, who’d been involved with the sport in one fashion or another since he was a little boy. “But because of Tamara and starting it, and just getting the people together — especially the last couple years with the women’s division and the elder’s division when we made it so you can enter a non-native team — it’s done such a good job of getting the people together, non-native and native people.”
He added a special thank you to all the volunteers, who he said make the tournament possible.
“We’ve gotten a big pat on the back from even the out of town teams and it kind of makes you feel good,” Grinder said. “Special thanks to my wife, Doreen, who’s with me by my side from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. working.”
Grinder said of special importance and significance to him is bringing generations together at the tournament.
“It’s a real family thing,” he said. “We watch our kids, and our kids watch us, too, and it’s just more for the love of the game and teaching our young ones how to bee good role models and to distract them from all this other stuff that’s happening out there — the drugs, alcohol and the violence and we try to make a positive thing of this tournament.
“That’s the highlight for me — putting a smile on those kids’ faces. The parents, the elders, just that smile of people getting together who haven’t seen each other for a while means a lot to me.”
Players were also recognized at the tournament for their individual efforts in each division. The following are award winners from this year’s event:
Best defence: Blake Tarbell – Cariboo Canucks
Best Defence: Drew Rose – Sugar Cane Hurricanes
Best forward: Storm Adams – Cariboo Canucks
Best forward: Lane Wycotte – Sugar Cane Hurricanes
Best forward: Chris Desjarlais – Quilchena Braves
Best Goalie: Christian Stump – Cariboo Canucks
Best defence: Melissa Rispin – Cariboo Stars
Best defence: Tianna Gilbert – Native Beauties
Best forward: Cassie Hogman – Tl’etinqox Hawks
Best forward: Katya Leverman – Cariboo Stars
Best forward: Tianna Patmore – Cariboo Stars
Best goalie: Leah McAllister – Tl’etinqox Hawks
Best defence: Vince Kozuki – Longhorns
Best defence: Braden Robbins – Xeni Allstars
Best forward: Trevor Paul – Longhorns
Best forward: Jared Davies – Xeni Allstars
Best forward: Keith Guichon – Xeni Allstars
Beset goalie: Terry Duff – Longhorns
Best defence: Butch Johnson – Tl’etinqox Cyroties
Best defence: Bob Pederman – Williams Lake
Best forward: Ron Doering – Williams Lake
Best forward: George Mack – Tl’etinqox Cyroties
Best forward: Mike French – Williams Lake
Best goalie: Emery Phillips – Tl’etinqox Cyroties