Waskaganish teams dominate CREE hockey tourney

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Waskaganish Jr Renz - Bantam Hockey Competitive ChampsThe 22nd Annual CREE Invitational Minor Hockey Tournament took place April 10-13, with on-ice action happening at the Air Creebec Centre in Val d’Or and arenas in Amos, Senneterre and Malartic. A total of 72 hockey teams and 36 broomball teams took part, ranging from PeeWee to Junior, with teams from Waskaganish enjoying extraordinary success.

The main event of the tournament was the final of the Junior Hockey Competitive category. Moose Factory led the way in the preliminary round of the tourney, posting wins over the Waskaganish Jr. Wings and Kitogan Zibi Jr. Bulls, earning them top seeding and a bye to the semi-finals.

But the Jr. Wings, winless in the preliminary rounds, would rebound in the elimination round. Led by four Hester boys – Alexander, Brett, Chris and Clinton – and teammate Wendel Blackned, Waskaganish dominated fourth-seeded Chisasibi, knocking off the Kings 6-0 and setting the stage for a semi-final rematch against Moose Factory. Fueled by a pair of goals by Blackned, Waskaganish knocked off Moose Factory 4-1 to qualify for the Junior Hockey Competitive Final.

The Jr. Bulls also rebounded from a preliminary round loss to Moose Factory to earn the third seed in the elimination round. Julia Dumont led the way with both goals as the Jr. Bulls knocked off sixth-seeded Waswanipi 2-0. Kitigan Zibi continued their stingy ways in the semi-finals, posting their third shutout of the tournament with a 1-0 win over Mistissini.

In the final, the Jr. Bulls struck first on a goal by Najij Coteto take a 1-0 first period lead. But then it was all Hesters, as Tyler Hester scored just three minutes later, assisted by Brett Hester, to knot the game at one goal apiece. Alexander Hester gave Waskaganish the lead with a pair of third period goals just 1:41 apart and the Bulls would not look back, winning the game 3-1 to lay claim to the Junior Hockey Competitive banner.

Ouje Lady Hawks - U-18 Girls Hockey ChampionsOver in the U-18 Girls Hockey category, the Waskaganish Firecats did not give up a goal in two games of preliminary round action. The Firecats dominated from start to finish in their opening game against Kiticisakik, winning 9-0. Kelsie Jolly scored four times for Waskaganish in the opener, while Melissa Jolly and Paula Salt each added a pair.

The Firecats continued their offensive onslaught against Chisasibi, shutting out the Lady Lynx 3-0, securing top seed in the elimination round and a bye into the semi-final, where Waskaganish needed overtime to beat the Wemindji Lady Wolves 3-2, with Melissa Jolly potting the winner, 1:17 into the extra frame.

Like the Firecats, the Ouje Lady Hawks cruised through the preliminary round, recording a pair of shutouts, first against Chisasibi 3-0, before defeating the Lady Wolves 4-0, with Dawn Saganash and Mariah Blacksmith both recording a pair of markers. Again like Waskaganish, the Lady Hawks needed a 3-2 victory in their semi-final match, this time over Mistissini, to earn a berth in the U-18 Girls Hockey final against the Firecats.

The Lady Hawks jumped out to an early first period lead in the final, on a goal by Cheryl-Ann Mianscum. Oujé would extend their lead to 3-0 with a pair of second period goals by Saganash and Mianscum, sealing the Firecats’ fate, as the Lady Hawks went on to a 4-2 victory to win the Girls U-18 Hockey Championship.

Waskaganish Starlets - Cadet Broomball ChampionsThe Waskaganish Jr. Renz also got the job done, posting a perfect 5-0 record as they marched towards a Bantam Hockey Competitive title. Meanwhile, the Waskaganish Smokey Hill Bandits outscored opponents 27-9 en route to a clash with the Chisasibi Blizzard in the PeeWee Hockey Competitive final. But it was Chisasibi coming out on top, silencing the Bandits potent offense with a 3-0 shutout to win top honours.

In other tournament action, the Mistissini Falcons recovered from a tournament opening loss to defeat the Waskaganish Junior Wings 4-2 in the final of the Midget Hockey Competitive category.

The Waskaganish Starlets once again proved why they are among the best broomball programs in the game, going undefeated in six games to win the Cadet Broomball title, while the Lac Simon Lady Hawks gave up a mere three goals in three elimination round games en route to taking the Junior Broomball title.

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