Many of Canada’s top teenage Native hockey players will be showcasing their skills this week.
The annual National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) will begin this Monday and continue until May 7 in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of Toronto.
The tournament will feature players from Bantam (14-15) and Midget (16-18) age groups. There will be eight entrants in the girls’ division and eight clubs competing in the boys’ category.
The Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO) is hosting the tournament.
“There’s a lot of talent that will be there,” said Wes Marsden, who is ASWCO’s operations and communications coordinator. “These are some of the best players around in these age groups.”
The boys’ division will include numerous Junior A players (16-21) the highest caliber from across the country. Most of the other players are at the lower AA or AAA level.
Clubs representing Saskatchewan took the gold medals in both the female and male categories at the 2015, staged in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“All these teams are so strong,” he said. “They really choose the best of the best. It’s really impossible to predict who will win. That’s what makes it so exciting to watch,” said Marsden.
Provinces sending teams to this year’s nationals, in both divisions, will be Saskatchewan and host Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec. As has been the case since the tournament’s inception in 2002, the Quebec-based clubs were called Eastern Door and the North.
Also competing will be Team Atlantic and Team North. Team Atlantic will feature players from Canada’s four most easterly provinces; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Team North will be comprised of players from the country’s three territories, Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest.
The Ontario girls’ side captured the silver medal at the 2015 NAHC while the boys’ entry placed fifth. “I know the girls’ team is a little bit younger this year,” Marsden said. “But they are still a strong team. And I expect them to be playing for a medal.”
For more information about Team BC - NAHC, and the Aboriginal Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity Partners Council, visit www.aboriginalsportbc.ca or visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/ASRPAPartnersCouncil.