TISDALE, MELFORT, NIPAWIN — Four players with area connections are headed to the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.
Tisdale Trojans forward Pavel McKeznie, Melfort Mustangs forward Zac Sommers, Mustangs goalie James Venne, and Nipawin Hawks defenceman Tre Fouquette were all selected to Team Saskatchewan. The championships will be held May 7 to 14 in Membertou, N.S.
“Being provided this opportunity is a true honour,” said Sommers, a Melfort product. “Not only to gain exposure and get to play hockey late into the year but to represent your province is something really special and I’m super excited for this opportunity.”
Warman’s Fouquette had a whirlwind junior rookie season. The 17-year-old started the campaign with the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders. He then went to La Ronge before being swapped to Nipawin for then Hawks captain Mkyllan Couture.
In 21 games for Nipawin, Fouquette had two gaols and four assists. With La Ronge, he recorded five assists over 12 contests.
The 16-year-old McKenzie suited up with the Trojans this past winter for his first U18 AAA season. He paced the team with 43 points and 24 goals in 44 games. Hailing from Cumberland House, McKenzie is looking forward to playing on Team Saskatchewan.
“I am excited to have made the team with so many talented players,” he said. “I look forward to representing Team Saskatchewan. And I look forward to making my community proud both - the Northern Village of Cumberland House and the Cumberland House Cree Nation.”
In his 17-year-old season, as a rookie, Sommers posted five goals and 13 points in 47 games. He helped the Mustangs win the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Sherwood Division.
“It was, for sure, an honour to get to play as a 17-year-old on my hometown team,” Sommers said. “It’s been a dream of mine all growing up watching the Mustangs and to get that opportunity was outstanding. The exposure being a young player in that league was phenomenal and I’m glad I was able to do it. The group of guys was outstanding, and the team was well coached. I just enjoyed playing the game after not getting in a game for nearly two years. Our team and staff this year was truly something special.”
In 2020-21, Sommers battled a shoulder injury. After recovery, he was to play with the Trojans, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the season.
Venne is pleased to be joining Sommers and other friends on Team Saskatchewan.
“I’m looking forward to being able to travel across the country to compete in the game I love,” he said. “It’s great that I get to go with a teammate from this past year because it adds familiarity, but I also know quite a few of the other guys from playing with or against them in past years.”
The Saskatoon product impressed on the Mustangs as a 17-year-old rookie. He posted a 17-7-2-3 record. Venne had a 2.76 goals against average.