Tournament of Champions opens with proper pomp and ceremony

NOHA District 7 director Gayle Payette of M’Chigeeng drops the ceremonial first puck to start the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) Midget B Tournament of Champions.

LITTLE CURRENT—The Anishinabe Singers drum group sang a welcome song as the four teams in the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) Midget B Tournament of Champions, hosted by the Manitoulin Panthers, filed onto the ice at the Little Current Recreation Centre for the opening ceremonies and words of welcome from the mayor and Ontario Hockey Association officials.

The master of ceremonies and announcer for the tournament games was local radio personality Kelly Timmermans of Little Current. She greeted the four teams taking part in the tournament: hosts the Manitoulin Panthers, the Blind River Outlaws, the Timmins Flyers and the Cochrane Rush.

“It is always great to have the opportunity to see good hockey,” said Mayor Al MacNevin as he welcomed the players and their families to the municipality. “Thank you all for coming.”

“Welcome to beautiful Manitoulin Island,” said NOHA District 7 director Gayle Payette of M’Chigeeng. “It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the NOHA Midget B Tournament of Champions hosted by the Manitoulin Panthers Hockey Association. We will witness some great hockey action all weekend. The players that come before us are friendly rivals that represent their teams and associations with pride. The coaches and team staff have committed themselves to guiding and teaching these young adults with the skills required for this great game of ours.”

The director admonished the participants and their parents and fans that “it is of great importance to acknowledge and respect our on ice officials. They have a demanding role in the success of every hockey game and honouring that role is very important as players and as eager fans in the stands. Their training, experience and integrity qualify them for their roles. We will all respect that over the course of the weekend.”

Ms. Payette expressed the NOHA’s gratitude to the Manitoulin Panthers Hockey Association for hosting the event and the volunteers that are committed to making this event a huge success. “Players, always remember to put forth your best effort on the ice and to hold your heads high, regardless of the outcome of the game,” she said. “Best of luck to each and every team.”

Manitoulin Panthers President Craig Abotossaway welcomed the players, their families and fans on behalf of the Panther’s organization. “We hope everyone has a great time,” he said. He acknowledged and thanked Ms. Payette for her words of welcome and encouragement. To the players he said “play hard this weekend. We know you will have a great time.” Mr. Abotossaway pledged his organization’s assistance to any of the teams or their staff and players to make the tournament as smooth as possible. “We will all do our best to help,” he said. “Miigwetch.”

The first puck of the tournament was then dropped by Ms. Payette between players from the Manitoulin Panthers and Timmins Flyers.

Alexis McGregor (13) of Birch Island closed the ceremonies with a stirring rendition of the national anthem, O Canada, in Ojibwe.