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Kahnawake athletes compete in Alberta

Kahnawa’kehró:non on Team EDN’s boys’ team prepare for takeoff to the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships this week. Courtesy Cade Stacey

Both the male and female sides of Team Eastern Door and the North (EDN) are being led by Kahnawa’kehró:non this week at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) in Grand Prairie, Alberta, with Bocephus Dailleboust and Ryan Stacey selected as team captains for the competition, which is set to conclude this weekend.  

“We’ve been doing good for having not had many practices together,” said 16-year-old defenseman Cade Stacey. “We’re competing, we’re with the other teams the whole time, but we just haven’t been as able to put the puck in the net.” 

Though it’s been an exciting experience for both teams, who are competing as U18 teams, strong competition has made it difficult to get ahead. The boys’ team faced a series of defeats against Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, and the Atlantic.  

The girls’ team has faced similar trouble, losing to Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba.  

The girls were, however, able to celebrate a 4-3 victory against the Atlantic team in the qualifying rounds yesterday morning.  

Despite the losses, Teri Kirby said it’s been exciting to watch the tournament – Cade is her son, and her daughter Ryan is the sole Kahnawa’kehró:non on Team EDN’s girls’ team, leading the team at only 13-years-old.  

Kirby said that though the team is on average younger than many of the other teams playing, that means that they’ll be able to take home good experience to improve their game in future years of the NAHC.  

Ryan Stacey (left) is captain of Team EDN’s U18 girls’ team at age 13. Her brother, Cade Stacey, 16 (right), plays for Team EDN’s boys’ team. Courtesy Teri Kirby

“This is just such good experience for all of them,” she said. “Ryan’s got a big role to play, but she’s doing good.” 

Defenseman Rohsennakehte Lahache, who plays for the boys’ team, said that through the losses the team has still felt the good moments.  

“In our second game we got our first goal, and that was a big moment for us,” he said. “But the competition has been quite difficult at points. It’s fast hockey, sometimes I can’t keep up with them.” 

Marcus Diabo, also on the team, said other teams had more experienced players. 

“It’s been tough, I came here expecting it. The teams are a lot older and there’s a lot of talent over here so it’s hard,” he said.  

“But it’s kind of similar to when I went to (the North American Indigenous Games). I get to meet a lot of new people, and I like to travel, so it hasn’t been bad coming here. The opening ceremony was beautiful.” 

Team EDN girls’ coach Ross Leclaire also said the atmosphere at the tournament has been great, with the teams given small hockey sticks as memorabilia, as well as a deerskin drum. During the opening ceremony, they also saw traditional drumming and dancing, and a representative of Team Alberta skated around the arena smudging players. 

“It’s an awesome atmosphere, I look forward to it every year, I want to keep coming here because I love spending time travelling and developing as a team, seeing them building those friendships,” he said.  

“The girls get to see what level they have to get themselves to to be competitive.” 

For boys’ team captain Dailleboust, the opportunity to lead is one he’s taken seriously. 

“Last year was my first year going, and I know how it feels to leave home. You miss home, you miss your parents, but I had a little bit of experience and I know what Team EDN expects,” he said. “It makes it easier because I can help out our coaches, and that makes everything smoother.” 

Relegation rounds will be happening today, with closing ceremonies for the tournament taking place this evening. Both teams sit at the bottom of the scoreboard with Team Atlantic, whose male and female teams have both also failed to secure a win throughout the tournament. Team EDN has scored a cumulative four points throughout the tournament. 

evedcable@gmail.com 

This article was originally published in print on May 10 in issue 33.19 of The Eastern Door.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.