44th Annual lil NHL opens in Mississauga

MISSISSAUGA – Since its modest beginnings in 1971, at the Little Current Arena the Little NHL All-Native Minor Hockey Tournament has grown into the largest and most prestigious event of its kind in the world.

Forty-four years ago, Reverend Len Self, Earl Abotossaway, former Chief Jim Debassige, Norm Debassige and former Chief Jim McGregor decided to hold the first all-native minor hockey tournament at Christmas of 1971. That first tournament attracted 17 teams and 200 players. This year, the 44th Annual Little Native Hockey League Tournament will be co-hosted by Whitefish River First Nation and Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation with additional support from Six Nations and the Mississaugas of the New Credit. The tournament is the largest yet, and will be hosting 177 teams and close to 3000 young Onkwehonwe players, plus parents and coaches.

Four venues will see action but the main headquarters will be the Hershey Centre in Mississauga for the third year, between March 16 and 19. The official gala opening ceremonies and registrations will take place Sunday March 15th at the Hershey Centre.

While growing is size and stature, the event has been hosted at a number of centres in the past including Sudbury, Sault St. Marie and elsewhere, but it has grown to the point where the logistics of accommodations and available ice pads in a close proximity to each other has forced the organizing committee to grow with the tournament. The Hershey Centre, with other smaller arenas all within 15 minutes of the main venue, in Mississauga and the availability of adequate lodging for several thousand players and parents has filled that bill – for now.

A new addition this year will be the Little Native Hockey League Mobile Hall of Fame where memorabilia from past tournaments will be on display.

Six Nations of the Grand River will be very well represented at the li’l NHL this year. The Six Nations Minor Hockey Association is sending its hopes and best wishes to a total of 10 Six Nations teams from Tyke to Bantam level.

The Two Row Times will have strong presence throughout the games and will be making action photos available for free download to parents and players on our website at www.tworowtimes.com. Stay with us throughout the tournament for features and updates and drop by our booth to say hi.

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