Image: Team Canada West & Frog Lake Leaders and Elders. Photo Credit: Frog Lake Connect
The World Junior A Challenge kicked off Friday night by making history.
Frog Lake hosted the first exhibition match of the tournament, Team Canada West vs Russia, and earned the distinction of being the first First Nation to host a Hockey Canada event.
Frog Lake councillor William Quinney said that recreation director Clifton Cross presented the opportunity from Hockey Canada and the World Junior A Challenge hosting committee in Bonnyville.
“We jumped at the opportunity. We thought it would be a great piece not only for our community, but other First Nations,” said councillor Quinney.
“We’re just reminding Hockey Canada that we’re part of the system,” he said.
The New Horizons Centre was packed full of eager hockey fans for the event, which Quinney says brought people together.
“This area is all about hockey…what I love hearing is the dads with their sons talking to each other, ‘look how this player is doing, look what he’s doing.'”
The exhibition game ended with Russia defeating Team Canada West 5-2.
“It is a historic game because it’s the first time that Hockey Canada has had an event on a First Nations community,” said Team Canada West coach Rick Swan after the game.
“It’s pretty special knowing that we came here early on, and that Hockey Canada and this Team Canada West group is part of something historic, that’s bigger than all of us,” he said.
Following the game a special round dance ceremony was held at the New Horizon’s Centre. Including in the round dance was Team Canada West, Team Russia, Frog Lake members & leadership and Elders.
In other pre-tournament action, the Energy Centre in Cold Lake hosted the United States and Team Canada East. The Americans took that game 3-1.
The R.J. Lalonde hosted the Bonnyville Pontiacs and Czech Republic in a spirited, high-intensity contest where the European team beat the local Junior A squad 5-1.