At least one Native player will soon be celebrating a minor professional hockey championship.
The Federal Hockey League (FHL), which is in its first season of operations, is ready to commence its championship final, a best-of-five series featuring the Ontario-based Akwesasne Warriors against the New York Aviators, who play their home contests in Brooklyn.
The Warriors, the lone Canadian entry in the six-squad FHL who play their home games in the eastern Ontario Mohawk community, have five Native players on their roster.
They are centre Dan Tessier who is Metis and four other forwards - Kyle Lagace, Casey Swamp, Travis Stacey and Nick Montour - who are all Mohawk.
As for the Aviators' roster, it includes one Native player, defenseman KC Timmons, who hails from Victoria, B.C. and is a member of the Cape Mudge tribe. Warriors' president/general manager Basem Awwad said his charges are not content simply making it to the league's championship series.
"Any time you have a bunch of guys together, it doesn't matter whether you're playing even something like street hockey, you want to win that final game," he said. "So we want to take this thing."
Aviators' coach Rob Miller said Timmons, who is the captain of the New York squad, has played an integral role this season. "He is a very good leader," Miller said. "(He's) quiet at times, leads by example and when he speaks, the guys listen."
The championship series begins this Saturday (Mar. 19) in New York. Game 2 will also be held in New York on Sunday.
Akwesasne will then host Game 3 on Mar. 25. If necessary, the Warriors will then also host Game 4 on Mar. 26. And if a fifth and deciding game is necessary, it will be staged Mar. 29 in New York.