Tuesday, 5 February 2019


After yesterday's article on the success of the 2019 Female World Sport School Challenge, it works out well that there was an announcement today about the teams from Manitoba who will head to Whitehorse, Yukon to represent the province in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship! Why does it work out well, you ask? Well, a number of the women named to the female team played this past weekend at the FWSSC, and I have a feeling they're going to a favorite to three-peat at the tournament!

If you happened to catch Episode 296 of The Hockey Show last summer, we featured Katie Bassett and Kennesha Miswaggon on the show after they had successfully won Manitoba's second consecutive gold medal at the tournament! Not surprisingly, those two young ladies will be heading back as members of Team Manitoba this year!

The women who played at the 2019 Female World Sport School Challenge included Emily Daniels, Aliya Baker, and Hayley Johnson all of the fourth-place Winnipeg Avros, Carrigan Umpherville and Pashen Garrick of the 12th-place Pilot Mound Buffaloes, Madelaine DesRosiers of the 15th-place Eastman Selects, Rachel O'Toole of the 13th-place Westman Wildcats, and Keira Christensen of the 10th-place Winnipeg Ice. While it may seem like the majority of the women played on teams who finished in the bottom-half of the standings, these women were some of the better performers on these Manitoba-based teams.

The women's team should be solid from top to bottom with a number of the women already committed to playing hockey at post-secondary institutions, so Manitoba should have enough weapons to be able to compete for the gold medal again. I'm excited to see what Team Manitoba can do at this tournament in May, so here's hoping they can bring home a gold medal for the third-straight spring!

The men's squad is a little more varied in that there are players from the MJHL, from prep schools, from high schools, and from midget teams, but they appear to be well-built as well. The men's tournament hasn't been as kind to Team Manitoba as on the women's draw, but this year's men's team looks like they're fast, skilled, and has the depth to compete at a high level. I don't know if it will be enough to knock off some of the perennial favorites at this tournament, but Manitoba will likely bring a little moxie with them that may be a difference-maker.

According to Manitoba's schedule for the women's team, they'll play in a pool with the British Columbia, Eastern Door & North, North, and Atlantic teams. Manitoba had very little trouble with the majority of those teams last year, and I suspect they'll try and make that the case again this year. They'll start the tournament with a game against the North on May 7 at 8:30pm, play BC at 5pm on May 8, battle the Atlantic in an early start at 8am on May 9, and close out the preliminary round on May 10 with an 11am game against Eastern Door & North. If all goes to plan, they'll play in a semi-final game on May 11 before competing in the gold-medal game on May 12 at 2:30pm.

The men's team looks to have a slightly more difficult path as they end up in a pool with Saskatchewan, Ontario North, Atlantic, and New Brunswick. The Saskatchewan team will be tough as they always produce high-quality teams on the men's side, so we'll see how Manitoba handles them. They'll begin with a 5pm game on May 7 against Ontario North, play New Brunswick on May 8 at 2pm, they get the late game at 8pm on May 9 against Atlantic, and the men will wrap up the round-robin at 5pm on Friday against Saskatchewan. If all goes well, the semi-finals go on May 11 and the gold-medal game will be played on May 12 at 5:30pm.

I'm excited to see how both teams from Manitoba do, and I'm hopeful that they can bring home some hardware. The women's team seems more likely to bring home an accolade, but the men's team for 2019 looks promising! Best of luck to all these athletes, and I'll be watching via the webstream when the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship kicks off!

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