Local athlete helps Team Ontario take gold in National Aboriginal Hockey Championships
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
A Lac Seul First Nation band member was one of just 22 players picked from across the province from all Aboriginal Under 18 players to play for Team Ontario at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC), which took place in Membertou, Nova Scotia May 7-14.
Approximately 500 participants from across the country attended the tournament, which hosted both male and female Under 18 teams, representing all areas of the country.
Jade Windego Jr, 16, is a forward with the Pilot Mound Buffaloes. Windego grew up locally, explaining, “I’m from Lac Seul, but I’m gone so often now. But in summer I am in Sioux lots… I think I’ve been playing hockey ever since I could walk.”
Starting off playing house league hockey in Sioux Lookout, Windego then made the move to AA when he was in Grade 6. He signed with the Pilot Mound Buffaloes and started playing for the team at the start of this current school year.
Asked about the experience of travelling to Nova Scotia for the event, Windego noted “The tournament was sweet. The people who ran the tournament treated everyone nicely… they gave us Gatorade in the locker rooms, food, all that. We were there for almost a week. That’s the farthest east I’ve been, we’ve done a lot of travelling this year with this team, but not that direction.”
Windego felt the team performed well together, commenting on the games, “It went pretty good. The boys played really fast. I didn’t know any of those guys, but they played really fast, and we had a good coach.” Despite losing to Team Saskatchewan in the round robin, Team Ontario went on to take the gold, beating Team Saskatchewan 3-2. Windego noted that the round robin loss to Team Saskatchewan was their only loss in the tournament. He had one goal and one assist in the gold medal game.
As for his future plans playing hockey, Windego hopes to continue to develop his skills on the ice, stating, “For now I think I might stay where I am and develop a little bit more, and then hopefully move on to the Juniors.”
Asked if he had any final thoughts on the tournament, Windego wanted to acknowledge some of the people who have helped him along the way. These include his father, Jade Windego Sr, as well as his coaches, his Auntie Lynn, and Uncles Trav and Jer.