2019 was the fourth anniversary of the Air Tindi Cup minor hockey tournament and camp in Behchoko and this year saw some new faces hit the ice at the Ko Gon Cho Recreation Complex late last month.
Five young players from Dettah made the trip to take part, marking the first time players from the community were a part of the annual event. They joined in with players from the host community, Gameti, Lutsel K’e, Wekweeti and Whati, all between the ages of nine to 15, to work on skill development and play in a fun tournament to wrap things up.
Theresa Lynn, the recreation co-ordinator with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said the event piqued her interest when she heard about it.
“It’s closer to us and it’s easier for travel,” she said. “We don’t have to fly or drive a long way to get there.”
The first day was a chance for the young players to get their feet wet by playing some games such as British Bulldog and tag, followed by work on skating and passing under the tutelage of Hockey NWT coach and instructor Brad Mueller along with co-coaches Mike Yakabuski and Heidi Monk.
“It was all about getting them interested in hockey again,” said Lynn. “The kids hadn’t played hockey for a couple of years so it was about getting the interest back.”
Lynn even got out on the ice herself to go for a skate but nothing serious, she joked.
“I just wanted to be a part of it because the kids were having a great time,” she said.
Yakabuski, who’s been helping to organize the tournament since its inception in 2016, said some of the youth participating had the basic hockey skills down and got a chance to work on new skills but for some, it was their first time participating in hockey skills and drills.
“They were still learning the basics but by the end of the weekend, they were able to participate in a fun game for beginners,” he said.
The event concluded with the players being split into four teams – Gold, Red, Green and Grey – to play for the Air Tindi Cup itself. It was Team Gold that came out on top in the end of it all based on wins and goals for and against.
The Dettah contingent was able to bring most of the necessary equipment with them and what they didn’t have was provided by the recreation centre.
The centre received a $100,000 equipment donation earlier this season and Lynn said her players were able to take advantage of that.
“We ended up borrowing the helmets they needed,” she said. “That donation helped out a lot.”
Lynn said she plans on going back next year for the fifth anniversary and she hopes to bring more players next time.
In the meantime, it would appear the interest she hoped would come is there.
“They have another event there next month and we’re taking players to that, hopefully a lot more,” she said.