Centre of the hockey universe

Share Button

Hockey players and fans from across Eeyou Istchee descended on Val-d’Or as the 37th Annual CREE Senior Hockey and Broomball Tournament rolled into town for four days, November 30 to December 3.

The city briefly became the Centre of the First Nations Hockey Universe as thousands of fans made the trip to watch over 1300 players compete for 89 teams across five hockey and three broomball categories at one of Canada’s most important First Nations sporting events.

Once again, the Air Creebec Centre hosted the majority of contests, with players also hitting the ice at Senneterre’s Centre sportif André-Dubé, and at the Barraute Arena.

The Waskaganish Wings proved to be the dominant force in the Class A Hockey category. With seven of the top eight scorers on their roster at this year’s tournament, the Wings powered to a 7-0 victory over the Mistissini Trappers in their first contest of the weekend, en route to a 3-0-0 record in preliminary action and the top seed entering the Class A Hockey playoffs.

The Wings outgunned opponents by an overall margin of 17-3 in their first three outings, but playoff matchups proved to be much tighter affairs. Waskaganish eked out a narrow 2-1 win over the Lac Simon Beavers to earn a berth in the final, where they claimed the championship banner with another 2-1 victory, this time against the Waswanipi Chiefs.

Kelvin Blackned tallied four goals and one assist to join Wings teammate Samuel Henley as the top scorers in Class A Hockey, with five points each. Waskaganish sniper Chris Hester also potted four goals.

With 15 teams participating, Class B1 Hockey emerged as the toughest hockey category at this year’s tournament, but the Pikogan Maikan looked to be up to the task in the early going. The Abitibiwinni First Nation squad notched four straight shutouts in preliminary action, including a pair of lopsided 10-0 victories over the Oujé-Bougoumou and Eastmain, and looked to be the clear favourite going into the championship round.

The road quickly got tougher for the Maikan, who opened the playoffs with a slim 4-3 win over the scrappy Inukjuak Blackhawks, and clinched a berth in the final by knocking off the Waskaganish Jets by a 4-1 score. However, Pikogan’s early-tournament touch eluded them in the club’s championship matchup with Kitigan Zibi KZ Gaz, who capped an undefeated run at this year’s event with a stunning 4-2 victory.

Despite filling the net early on, the Maikan failed to produce the top scorer in Class B1 Hockey action. That honour went to Max Lapointe of the Mistissini Chummys, who racked up nine goals and three assists.

Pikogan’s Joey Kistabish finished second in Class B1 Hockey with 11 points, while teammate Jordan Kistabish joined Inukjuak’s Samson Tookalook with seven points.

Women’s Competitive Broomball also featured 15 teams across three divisions, including a trio of Eeyou Istchee squads that finished preliminary action with unblemished 4-0-0 records.

The Waskaganish Starlites got their tournament off to a relatively slow start with a narrow 1-0 win over the Mistissini Glaciers, before marching to a 6-0 victory over the Lac Simon Jaguars on the strength of a Martina Cowboy hat trick.

The Starlites wrapped up their preliminary schedule with shutout wins over the Chisasibi North Stars and Pikogan, and followed up with a 2-0 blanking of the Nemaska Capitals. But the squad quickly hit a wall in its semi-final matchup with the Waswanipi Eagles, who quietly made a run to the final four with five straight shutout wins, and bounced the Starlites from championship contention with an impressive 3-1 win.

While the Eagles’ offense proved to be far less prolific than the high-flying Starlites, the club clearly iced the stingiest defense at this tournament. Riding high following their win over the Starlites, Waswanipi clinched the Women’s Competitive Broomball championship with a razor-thin 1-0 win over the Wemindji IceStars to complete their Cinderella run at this year’s event.

Cowboy built on her three-goal performance against the Glaciers to finish the tournament with six goals and two assists, joining Wemindji’s Monica Visitor atop the Women’s Competitive Broomball player stats with eight points.

Old Timers 40+ Hockey was once again one of the most popular events at this year’s tournament. The Chisasibi Relics opened with a decisive 4-1 victory over Waskaganish, kicking off an undefeated drive to the category final, where they again topped Waskaganish with a 1-0 win to claim the Old Timers title.

Nine Relics players picked up points during their championship drive, but just one Chisasibi shooter managed to crack the Top 10 in scoring. Adrian Chiskamish finished the tourney with five goals and one assist, well back of Whapmagoostui’s Robert Auclair. The Whalers sniper racked up an impressive nine goals and four assists, but that was not enough to rescue the Whapmagoostui squad, which surrendered a tournament-worst 20 goals during a 1-2-0 run in preliminary action.

In other hockey and broomball action at this year’s tournament, the Winneway Hawks recorded a trio of one-goal victories, including a narrow 4-3 semi-final win over the top-seeded Opticiwan Winterhawks, during their drive towards a championship banner victory in Class B Hockey.

Teammates April Bosum and Ashley Rabbitskin combined for 17 total points and finished the tournament as the top two scorers in Women’s Hockey, but their offensive exploits were not enough to lead the Oujé-Bougoumou Lady Hawks to glory this year.

The Lady Hawks scored an eye-popping 25 goals in their first three outings, but were humbled in a 4-1 loss to the Mistissini Mustangs in their final matchup. The Mustangs also reached double-digits on two occasions at this year’s events, but built their championship run on a defense that gave up just three total goals.

The Chisasibi Lady Hawks needed just seven total goals during their march to victory in Women’s Recreational Broomball. Meanwhile, in Men’s Broomball, Waswanipi blanked three opponents on during a perfect 5-0 run to a championship victory.

Share Button

Comments are closed.