MANITOBA — The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) returned to Manitoba this year. Held from May 7-11, both representing Team Ontario Female and Male teams ventured out to compete on behalf of their nations.
For Team Ontario Female, the championship this year had a familiar feel. Last year, the representing team made it to the final, but couldn’t pull through to defeat Manitoba.
This year however, the bench was joined by the talented Kelly Babstock of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory as an assistant coach. Joined by a strong female and Anishnaabe bench comprised of Pamala Agawa, Kelley Armstrong, Maggie Lasage and Tommie-Lee Recollet, this years team ventured into the tournament with compelling force.
Ontario went into Game 1 on Monday, May 8, against Team Atlantic. They pulled away with a 13-0 final. As for Game 2, Ontario dominated the Eastern Door and the North 10-1. In Game 3, Ontario took on Team Alberta and came away on top 5-1. By their final match against Team British Columbia, Ontario walked away 3-0 with four games undefeated.
This bought them a bye over the quarter-final, where Team British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Atlantic would battle it out to get into the semi-final. Matched with Team British Columbia, Team Ontario took control and won a close showing of 2-1, the closest game they played.
Flanked by Manitoba with a 2 goal difference in tournament scoring overall, Team Ontario would return to a similar scenario as the year previous.
This time, instead of being beaten in the last few seconds on the clock, Team Ontario scored with 44 seconds left in the third, reversing history with Team Manitoba. Team Ontario came away with a 2-1 final and gold medals over the host team and reigning tournament champions.
As for Team Ontario Male, Ontario defeated Team Atlantic 6-5 in Game 1, in Game 2 they lost to Team Manitoba 1-4, and in Game 3 they defeated the Eastern Door and the North 5-4. In the quarter-final, Ontario defeated Team Alberta 3-2, and Team British Columbia 4-2 in the semi-final.
This brought Team Ontario Male to the final, against Team Manitoba as well. Succumbing to their earlier patterns in their initial game against one another, Ontario fell to Manitoba 2-5, earning silver medals and finalists.