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Little Native Hockey League tournament back for 49th year

Every March break, Talon Boyge and his family spend their time at the hockey rink instead of heading to warmer weather.

The young defenseman of the Nipissing Warriors plays in Ontario’s largest native hockey tournament called the Little NHL or Native Hockey League.

This year’s tournament in Mississauga, Ont., features teams from across Ontario.

“That’s what we do. It’s been our March break since I was a kid. I’ve played in Little NHL a few times, my husband has too… So we’ve been doing it for years before we had kids,” Christina Boyge, Talon’s mom. , CTV News said.

There are 184 teams participating this year, representing over 44 First Nation communities.

The winning team’s prize is bragging rights.

“We played a few games in this tournament, we lost a couple, but that’s not what it’s about,” Talon said. “It’s always been about meeting all these people.”

The tournament also brings in several National Hockey League heroes to come and cheer on the players.

Reggie Leach, who helped the Philadelphia Flyers win the Stanley Cup in 1975 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy the following year as playoff MVP in a losing effort, the only non-goalie in history to do so, appeared in a tournament that. started on Sunday.

“A lot of these kids don’t realize how many First Nations players have played in the National Hockey League and that’s the message we need to get to these young kids,” Leach said.

This year’s host is the Nipissing First Nation, whose ambassador Dan Frawley experienced the tournament as a child.

“I would come here and play and just have so much fun that when I went back to my other team, I was a better player because of the experience,” the former Pittsburgh Penguins captain said.

The tournament promotes respect, education, sportsmanship and citizenship, giving hockey families something to look forward to at every picnic break.

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