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T-Birds capture masters title
The 10th annual All Native Nkmaplqs Challenge Cup is in the books for another year.
There were 25 native teams and hockey players from all over Western Canada and the Yukon taking part in the event in Vernon.
The competitive division was extremely competitive this year with teams from Vernon, Quilchena (Merritt), Kamloops, Blueberry (Fort St.John), Sto:lo (Chilliwack), Hustalen (Chase), Team Yukon and Big Guy Lake (Prince George) with many current and former junior players representing their respective areas.
In a very fast-paced and rough competitive division final, the Kamloops 10K – an all-star team with players from B.C. and Alberta – prevailed 6-3 over Big Guy Lake from Prince George
Former Pittsburgh Penguin draft pick Casey Pierro Zabotel led the way collecting the hardware for tournament high scorer and tournament MVP. Also collecting all-stars from Kamloops were Drew Rose (defense) and Trent Campbell (forward). From Big Guy Lake, John French (goalie), Dustin Erickson (defense), Ryan Howse (forward), and Josh Garneau (forward) all received-all stars. Big Guy lake made it to the final by defeating Team Yukon in the semifinal earlier in the day.
In the masters division, teams from Okanagan, Fort St. James, Quilchena, Williams Lake, South Okanagan, Alkali Lake, Butch’s Bandits and Moberly Lake competed for bragging rights.
The Okanagan T-Birds went undefeated for the weekend, beating Fort St. James in the final 8-4, making up for a loss over the same squad a year earlier in the master final.
Fort St. James had earlier beaten Moberly Lake Lakers to return to the final.
While a slightly slower affair, it was still extremely competitive as old rivalries and new ones were renewed. Great to see so many teams and areas represented in both divisions.
In the recreation and ladies division teams from Vernon, Merritt, Williams lake, Blueberry, Sto:lo, and Canim lake competed for the love of the game, with players ranging in skill from beginner to veteran. Fun was had by all.
The tournament committee would like to thank all volunteers, weekend staff, and the tournament supporters and sponsors.
Also, a special thank you to all the teams and theirs fans – without them, the tournament would not be possible.