MELFORT, TISDALE, NIPAWIN — Four players with area connections helped Team Saskatchewan earn the silver medals at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.
In the championship game in Membertou, N.S., the Saskatchewan male squad trailed Ontario 2-0 late. Melfort Mustangs forward Zac Somers scored twice to knot up the contest, but Ontario prevailed in overtime, 3-2. Tre Fouquette of the Nipawin Hawks was named the tournament’s top defenceman. Also on the squad were Melfort Mustangs goalie James Venne and Tisdale Trojans forward Pavel McKenzie. All four are Métis.
“It was a great opportunity to play against other Aboriginal players … With there being high-calibre players from all across Canada, it made for a very fast and competitive tournament,” Somers said.
Team Saskatchewan went 4-0 in opening round play. It opened with an offensive-filled 8-4 win victory over Team North on May 9. McKenzie, who is from Cumberland House, had a goal and two assists. Melfort’s Somers recorded two helpers in the May 9 contest.
Later that day Team Saskatchewan beat Team Eastern Door and the North, 4-2. McKenzie had a goal and an assist.
On May 10, the squad doubled up Team Ontario, 6-3. McKenzie posted two assists. The next day Team Saskatchewan finished the opening round play with a 6-0 shutout against Team B.C.
In the semifinals, Team Saskatchewan shut out Team Eastern Door and the North, 6-0. McKenzie scored in the victory. For the tournament, McKenzie had two goals and seven points, according to the event’s website. Complete goalie statistics were not available for Venne.
Team Saskatchewan enjoyed their time on and off the ice in Nova Scotia. Venne said the team “was a really fun group to play with.”
“I enjoyed always spending time with my teammates and being at the rink watching games,” McKenzie said.
Somers noted the group got the opportunity to do some sightseeing.
“We had a day off on Thursday of the tournament and we got to head out to the coast and do a few things like visit and lighthouse and a few other things,” he said. “Overall, an unforgettable experience!”