Ice Chips and Canoe Quips

Island runners at Hypo Half

The Manitoulin runners were spare this year for the annual 21km Hypothermic Half Marathon but the few entered figured prominently! Michael Niven, long a headliner for shorter distance track, road race and multi-sport results is now taking notice in the longer lengths. This past Sunday, Michael took the lead in the half marathon and never let it up to take the overall win with an impressive winter clocking of 1:37 for the distance. Training partner Nick Head-Petersen was solidly in a top 15 position in a stable of 60 runners! Way to go guys!


Manitoulin hockey family series!

My father, having a long history of connections with many Manitoulin families over the years, has noticed that certain family names are consistently at the forefront of Island athletics. So what allows certain surnames to endure through the generations? Is it nurture or nature? Genetics or personal perseverance? Family attitude or DNA? My dad wanted to recognize Manitoulin athletic dynasties and here is the first of a series. Have other suggestions? Make your case.

Historically, Manitoulin has had numerous great hockey families. Such names as Peltier, Lockeyer, Webkamigad, Thibault, Assinewai, McCulloch and many others to come. One such current family includes the descendants of the Little N.H.L co-founder Norman Debassige. Son Adam Debassige and wife Lorraine (nee Pitawanakwat) have quite a large brood of hockey offspring presently playing Canada’s national winter sport. With a dozen grandchildren playing minor hockey, the pair are forever in Ontario’s arenas. The Debassige’s see this as a social life that keeps them: forever young.

Among the older offspring is Cole Pitawanakwat, who toils for St. Mary’s High School in Sault Ste. Marie. His team, first in the Sault high school league, also recently captured the championship title in a Niagara Falls tournament by winning six straight games over teams from Hamilton, Cleveland, St. Catharines and Toronto. The deciding match was a 3-2 overtime victory in which Cole played a pivotal defensive game to seal the win.

Another grandson, Jeremy Couchie, a former Manitoulin Panther, is a member of the Copper Cliff major midgets. He is an assistant captain with the first place Nickel District league’s first place squad. He is a fast-skating, two-way forward for a team that has lost but four of 25 league game in their 2014-5 campaign. Incidentally, another Manitoulin product on the team is Wikwemikong’s Brandon Pheasant. Copper Cliff has qualified for the OHF finals to be held in Hearst, beginning this April 9th!

Granddaughter Halli Debassige (mother Tanya) is a peewee goalie in the Sudbury regional house league. She is member of the Technica Wolverines and is performing in a stalwart fashion in only her first year of playing goal!

Another granddaughter, Jaz Pitawanakwat (brother of Cole and daughter former Panther Jason Pitawanakwat), plays for the Sault Storm Peewee B’s. Recenlty Jaz and her teammates captured gold at the London Devilettes Invitational Tournament. Jaz is a consistent goal scoring threat for her Sault Storm side.

Keeping up with the family means a lot of km’s on the road and a lot of hotel nights but Adam and Lorraine enjoy it immensely. Grandma, Mrs. Norman Debassige, quite an energetic elder, often accompanies them on their hockey journeys as they follow their two midgets, two peewees, and three tykes around the province. What another amazing hockey family!


Panthers on the prowl

A couple of Manitoulin Panther Novice players ventured north to get in touch with their Mushkegowuk Cree ancestry to play in the 8th Annual Mushkegowuk Cup. Kohyn Eshkawkogan, defence on the Novice Panthers, played in his 2008 age category in the tournament and was selected as the “Forward of the Tournament,” won a Most Valuable Player award, scored 50 goals in 5 games and led his team to hoisting the Mushkegowuk Cup as the A Final champions.

Saraya Eshkawkogan, Kohyn’s older sister and one half of the dynamic Panther novice goaltending duo, played in the novice division, had two shutouts, a 1.20 GAA in 5 games and played a key role by making some timely saves to help her team in winning the A Final Championship where she also won the championship game MVP.


A good sport is good for sports.

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