Manitoulin’s Special Olympians trounce cops in annual floor hockey tournament

The athletes on both sides were all smiles during the not very tight-matched game in favour of the Special Olympians.

AUNDECK OMNI KANING – The annual event that pits Manitoulin Special Olympics’ floor hockey team against Manitoulin law enforcement was a good time had by all, but a game that saw the Island’s coppers well and truly trounced, despite their best efforts.

The game, held at Aundeck Omni Kaning’s Four Directions Complex, which donated the use of the space, began with the Special Olympics motto “Let me win, but if I can’t win, let me be brave in my attempt.” With a little encouragement, MSO floor hockey goalie Tyler Madahbee shared the MSO’s own tongue-in-cheek version, “Let me win, but if I can’t win, let me be good looking” to much laughter from the many audience members on hand. 

Following the singing of the national anthem by the MSO’s own Yuri and Nano, and some good-natured trash talking from host master of ceremonies Kelly Timmermans, the game got underway and began with a quick goal by Andrew for the MSO side.

Given Cortes offered his DJing skills for the game, pumping out club classics and favourites to get the crowd, and athletes, going.

With seven minutes and 30 seconds left in the first period, the law enforcement team, comprised of officers from all three Island police forces, probation and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, put their ‘goalie’ in net. The goalie was inflatable in nature, and moved across the crease on a track.

Constable Marie Ford was a frequent visitor to the penalty box and was often picked on by the referees. The penalty box, by the way, was created by officers with the Ontario Provincial Police from items donated from the RONA Little Current Building Centre. The refs seemed a little heavy handed at times, with the penalty box having barely enough space to fit the players who peered between the bars at the game.

With three minutes remaining in the first, the law enforcement team scored its first goal to make it 5-1 for MSO.

The goals just kept coming for the Special Olympians, who are known for their athletic prowess, the province—the world—over. By the end of the second period the score was sitting at a comfortable 12-3 for MSO which ended with a super save by Tyler in the last few seconds.

The law enforcement mascot, a cheery Lion, caused quite a stir when all her cheering caused a bout of exhaustion. The mascot had no choice but to have the Aundeck Omni Kaning volunteer fire department to carry her off in a stretcher. She appeared soon after, though, feeling refreshed and even had a change of heart, and jersey. She was now cheering for MSO! 

Try as they might, the law enforcement team could not outplay the Special Olympians who were no match for these athletes.

The game ended with Team MSO proudly hoisting their trophy high and with handshakes all around.

“It was loads of fun,” said Constable Ford, who organized the event.

“Watching the athletes, when one of them gets hold of the puck and heads toward our net, the look on their face is just priceless. We’re so thankful to have the Four Directions Complex donate the use of the gym to us.”

Constable Ford said she attended two of the MSO practices, and they were practicing to win. “They are more determined than anyone I know,” she said of the athletes.

Constable Ford thanked Brittany Allen, the UCCM Anishnaabe Police social navigator assistant, and the AOK volunteer fire department for their parts in making the event a great one.

The officer asked that community members put Friday, June 28 in their calendars and join them for the annual Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, which takes place in Mindemoya each year.

“We want to raise awareness and support these athletes who work so hard,” she continued. “We have athletes who compete at the provincial, national and even world stages. We’re really surrounded by a lot of talent and it’s so nice to play together.”