MISSISSAUGA—Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says this year’s annual Little NHL tournament will continue the decades-old tradition of bringing together Ontario’s First Nation communities and fostering a sense of community and friendly competition amongst our youth.
“The Little Native Hockey League continues to be an annual March Break tradition that, for many of our youth, is the most exciting time of the year,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “It’s an exciting time for the players, parents, and families and friends, many of which travel from all over Ontario to show their love for the game of hockey and for their communities—here in Mississauga.”
The 46th Annual Little Native Hockey League tournament, hosted by Moose Cree First Nation, kicked off Sunday night with an opening ceremonial puck drop from Moose Cree member and former NHL All-Star, Jonathan Cheechoo, who is also this year’s Honourary Chair of the tournament.
“As a Little NHL alumni, it was always exciting for me as a child to head to this tournament and to be able to represent my community of Moose Factory,” said Honourary Chair Jonathan Cheechoo, leading up to the tournament. “Through the years I participated, I’d come to learn that through the four pillars that the Little NHL stands for: respect, education, citizenship and sportsmanship, that I carried these values with me as I moved on in my professional career as a player of hockey, and more importantly in my life as a whole.”
The tournament started out as a 17-team affair on Manitoulin Island in 1971 and this year’s installment welcomes a record-breaking 200 teams and over 2,500 players from all over Ontario for five days in Mississauga. The tournament will utilize over 10 ice surfaces and approximately 40 hotels, while generating millions of dollars towards the local economy.
“Since its foundation, the Little NHL tournament and its founders have demonstrated their passion and commitment to our communities and to our youth. Over the years, the exceptional work of the organizers and the tireless volunteers has helped mold our young athletes into exceptional human beings both on and off the ice,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.
One Little NHL fan will, sadly, not be in attendance this year.
Frank Fisher from Wikwemikong had attended Little NHL events for many years along with his faithful sidekick Sikski, an Akita husky. Sikski passed away earlier this month.
Sikski had become the unofficial mascot of the Wikwemikong Hawks over many years of attending their games both at home and at the various Little NHL venues.