Wabasca, Loon River, Sturgeon Lake win Treaty 8 First Nations Cup titles

WABASCA NTM TEAM . . . Men’s Division Champions.

Joe McWilliams
For South Peace News

It was standing room only in the Secure Energy Arena at the Slave Lake Multi Rec Centre on the last weekend of March, for the second weekend in a row.

This time it was thanks to the Treaty 8 First Nations Cup, which brought 30+ teams from around Treaty 8 territory to compete in three separate tournaments.

There was good, entertaining hockey action in all three categories – Men’s, Ladies’ and Legends.

The Loon River Jets won the Ladies’ tournament after defeating Sucker Creek 5-3. That makes two years in a row for the Loon River ladies, who showed again they are tops in their field.

Next on the ice at the end of Championship Sunday (March 31) were the Sturgeon Lake Blues and Whitefish Habs, battling for the Legends title. The Blues had the edge for most of the game and won 7-3.

The Men’s final featured two very good teams: Wabasca NTM vs. defending champion Loon River Stars in a repeat of the 2023 final. Loon won that one, but it was a different story this time. The game was fast, hard-fought and tightly contested, with both goaltenders making numerous outstanding saves to keep the score low and close.

Wabasca took an early lead, but the Stars tied it 2-2. But down the stretch Wabsaca got the breaks it needed and put in a couple more to win 4-2.

Reached a couple of days later, NTM coach Gerald Rathbone credited “good leadership,” from Linden Jackson, Deon Rathbone and Michael Cardinal, plus timely goaltending by Levon Auger, that kept them in the game early on.

One of the team members was Blake Carpenter of Slave Lake.

“He’s fast,” says Rathbone. “We like him!”

And other speedy and talented member of the team who generated a lot of buzz in the crowd was Mahekun Laroche. He led the team in scoring.

“That kid’s only 17 years old!” says Jackson.

The ‘NTM’ in the team name stands for Norman Thomas McLeod, who passed away, Rathbone

Winning the Men’s B Final was the Wabasca Sharks, 7-0 over the Whitefish Oilers.

“Pretty cool to see the facility jam-packed and the town buzzing all weekend,” says Ice Breaker Hockey Game organizer Shawn Gramlich.

“It hasn’t been that full since Wayne Gretzky was here!”

Rathbone says his team will definitely be back next year to defend its title. But the work this spring isn’t finished. The NTM squad competes in the Native Provincials, coming up later this month, in Edmonton.

STURGEON LAKE BLUES . . . Legends Division Champions.
LOON RIVER JETS . . . Ladies’ Division Champions.

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