This past weekend six Indigenous hockey teams squared off at the Kahnawake Sports Complex for an All-Native Hockey Tournament, with a first-place prize of $10,000 and a more modest $4,000 for second.
Teams from Akwesasne, Six Nations, Waswanipi, Eskasoni, and Kitigan Zibi traveled to Kahnawake for the tournament, which was organized by Nick Montour.
“Organizing two tournaments in the past I kind of knew what to expect. As for the turnout, I wasn’t expecting that,” said Montour.
Montour was unable to participate in the second day of tournament play due to an injury he sustained in last weekend’s Kahnawake Men’s Hockey League Championships, where his team, the Bruins, took home the trophy.
Luckily Montour’s team had it covered, beating out the Six Nations Ironmen in the semi-finals 5-1 to clinch a spot championship game.
In the finals, Kahnawake squared off against the Waswanipi Chiefs, a team known for its dominance in Indigenous hockey tournaments across the country.
“They win almost every tournament they go to. Anywhere you go everybody knows the Waswanipi Chiefs,” said Montour.
To say the game was exciting would be an understatement. Kahnawake was up 2-0 but Waswanipi came back to tie it up in the third period, forcing overtime.
In overtime, Kahnawake got a penalty, leaving them with just four men on the ice to Waswanipi’s five.
Montour said it was a nerve-wracking finish to the tournament.
“We all trusted each other, and that was four guys we all decided we thought would be the best for overtime to go with younger guys with some speed and ended up working out,” said Montour.
Dalton Kane scored his third goal of the game on a two-on-two, making it a championship hat trick for the 18-year-old forward.
“I don’t think town had a game like that for hockey in a little while,” said Dalton’s cousin, Kale Kane, who played on the same line.
“My dad actually gave us the jerseys for that tournament. They were old jerseys that used to go to Native tournaments with,” said Dalton, who went on to explain that each jersey had the letter K on the shoulder, for his late uncle, Killer Kane.
“That had something to do with the win, too,” said Dalton.
“I can’t remember the last time Kahnawake won in all-Native tournament,” said Montour.
“It was nice to see how many people came out. It gives you that much more energy when you’re playing and the fans are involved in the game,” said Kale. “It was a really good atmosphere having everybody out there.”
“All the kids that were there watching, at the end of the game, they jumped on the glass with us and started cheering, so that was I think that was the highlight for me,” said teammate Zander McComber.
“Hopefully it gets bigger and bigger and becomes something we can keep going and something to look forward to every year in Kahnawake,” said Montour.
Since the tournament, he’s already had new teams reach out asking him to reserve a spot for them next year.