Finally, after a Covid-19-long hiatus, Ontario’s largest Indigenous hockey tournament began in Mississauga, Ont., on Sunday and thousands of First Nations children and teens are taking part.
The 49th Little Native Hockey League (Little NHL) tournament, began on Sunday evening with opening ceremonies at Paramount Fine Foods Centre. The tournament will run until Thursday with the Nipissing First Nation as host.
With humble beginnings in 1971, the first tournament had 17 teams and a modest 200 players in Little Curren. This year, the tournament features 184 teams from across Ontario with a total of 487 games in Mississauga arenas.
Along with other venue innovations, back in February, the Little NHL Executive met to discuss the concerns expressed by community members from all First Nations regarding a motion that was passed on February 26th to remove recreational and competitive divisions.
“After considering your concerns and the unintended consequences to the House League teams, we have decided to pause on the portion of the motion that sees all teams placed in one category. This means that we will retain the competitive and recreational divisions for the 2023 Little NHL tournament,” reads the LNHL Executive statement.
No body contact across divisions was a piece of the motion that withstood its rationale, to maintain the spirit of the tournament and its intent.
For Six Nations teams; the U7 Boys Tyke Grand River Raiders sit in Pool 3, but scheduled game results have not been released.
The U9 Boys Novice Six Nations Serpents sit in Pool 1and defeated team Dokis 3-12 and the Atikameksheng Stingers 19-1 on Monday. While the Six Nations U9 sit in Pool 2 and defeated the Walpole Island U9 5-3.
The U11 Boys Atom Recreational division saw the Six Nations Blackhawks – Porter sit in Pool 1 and defeated the Serpent River First Nation 5-0, and the Wasauksing Islanders 13-1 on Monday, On Tuesday, they defeated the Curve Lake Screaming Eagles 6-0. The Six Nations Blackhawks – General sit in Pool 3 and lost to the Nipissing Warriors 0-11 on Monday.
The U11 Girls Atom division saw the Six Nations Blackhawks defeat the Norther Stars 1-0 on Monday.
The U13 Boys Peewee Recreational division saw the Six Nations Sting sit in Pool 2, and defeat the RFN Peewee team on Monday. The U13 Boys Peewee Competitive division saw the Six Nations Kings sit in Pool 2, and defeat the Long Lake 58 Generals 11-0 on Monday. They went on to lose to the Moose Cree Scrappers in a close game 3-4 on Tuesday.
The U15 Boys Bantam Recreational division saw the Six Nations Blackhawks LL sit in Pool 1, and take a loss to the Oneida Nation 5-3, then a win over the Wasauksing Islanders 6-1 on Monday. The U15 Boys Bantam Competitive division saw the Six Nations Blackhawks sit in Pool 1 and win their first game over the Thunder Bay Warriors 3-0, then 6-1 over the Six Nations Snipers on Monday. On Tuesday they lost to C.M.O. United 0-1. While the Six Nations Snipers also sit in Pool 1, and lost to C.M.O. United 0-13 on Monday.
The U15 Girls Bantam division saw the Six Nations Smash sit in Pool 1 and take a loss to the C.M.O United Girls Hockey team 1-3. Then defeat the Moose Cree Lady Scrappers 1-0 on Monday.
The U18 Boys Midget Recreational division saw the Six Nations U18 sit in Pool 3 and win their first game over the Kattawapiskak Wolves 6-2, then lose a tight game against M’Chigeeng 5-6 on Monday. The U18 Boys competitive division saw the Six Nations Stealth sit in Pool 1, and took a win over Team Pamaj – Delaware Nation 1-0 on Monday.
The U18 Girls Midget division saw Six Nations sit in Pool 1 and take on the Nipissing First Nation U18 girls and win 6-1, but later take a loss to Serpent River 4-3 on Monday.
Many former players of this tournament have gone on to various levels of Hockey excellence with “AA”, “AAA”, Tier II, Junior B, College or University, OHL and NHL level of play.