In an exciting 2-1 double-overtime victory, Sudbury’s Copper Cliff Hawks defeated the Moose Factory Scrappers to win the inaugural Taykwa Tagamou Nation Men’s Recreational Tournament championship.
The Aboriginal hockey tournament took place from Dec. 8-11 at the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane, Ont., which features an NHL-sized rink.
The Copper Cliff Hawks took the $18,000 prize over seven other teams that entered the tournament. The Mistassini team defeated the Moosonee Cree Aski to take the $6,000 consolation prize.
Other teams from Constance Lake, Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Taykwa Tagamou took part in the tournament.
The consolation championship game initially had payouts for the winner and loser of the game but representatives from Moosonee and Mistassini approached tournament organizer Christopher Hunter of Peawanuck about making the game a winner-take-all.
“So I forewarned them that ‘one of you boys are going home without gas money,’” Hunter said.
“I said, the very second your skates hit the ice, there’s no going back.”
The teams agreed and Mistassini shutout Moosonee 3-0.
“That game almost got a little emotional for Moosonee … trying to start fights near the end,” Hunter said.
The tournament is five years in the making for Hunter, recreation director for Taykwa Tagamou Nation, who thought about starting a tournament after the construction of the Tim Horton Event Centre.
“I was thinking about back in the day, I used to compete in a Native hockey tournament circuit,” he said. “The first thing I thought about back then was my uncle Alec Bird, who used to run (a tournament) in Timmins years ago, and he stopped doing it, so I was thinking, we should have one in Cochrane.”
Hunter formulated a tournament format and plan, but this was shelved when he moved to Toronto in 2007. Upon being hired by Taykwa Tagamou in July, Hunter dug up his old plan and set about organizing the tournament.
He initially planned for a 12-team tournament and had all teams registered, but the schedule conflicted with another tournament in Val D’or, Que., so some teams dropped out, leaving Hunter to recalibrate the tournament format.
“It was very stressful,” Hunter said. “This being the first year, I guess nothing goes perfect in the first year.”
Despite some of the challenges, Hunter considers the tournament a success and is already planning for a tournament next year. He said it will take place in January 2013, and they hope to stream it live online. He’s also booked Wapistan (Lawrence Martin) to perform a concert for that event. He also hopes the next tournament will feature more sponsors.
The tournament featured a monster bingo on Dec. 8 and a concert on Dec. 10 featuring local musician Michael Archibald.
The tournament was broadcast live on Wawatay Radio Network.
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