Peewees from Big River go undefeated at tourney in Las Vegas
- Kaitlynn Nordal | July 10, 2019
Keep your head up and stick on the ice.
This is a piece of advice many hockey players have heard at least once in their career and 10 pee wee players did just that winning gold at a five-day tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, this past May.
The Whitefish Flyer hockey team from Big River First Nation formed last year and up until this point they had only played in more localized tournaments.
Carrie Whitefish, team manager, saw a post about the tournament on Facebook and entered the team, as she wanted the players to have an opportunity to play in the United States.
“When we give these First Nations kids an opportunity like this, they stay away from getting in trouble, getting into drugs ...we just have to give our First Nations an opportunity to experience hockey out there and that there is more to life than drugs and alcohol,” she said.
During the tournament, which was from May 23 to 27, they played five different teams. They would go on to win every game they played during the tournament.
“I knew we were going to take that tournament because of our players. The teams that we beat, we pretty much just mercied all of them. So, I pretty much knew we were going to take it,” said Carrie.
Her son, Keedon Whitefish, who has been playing hockey for seven years now as a centre, defense, and left wing, was one of the players in the tournament.
Keedon was exited to play in the tournament and showcase his abilities as an athlete.
“We were winning nine to six and right when the buzzer went, I was really happy and threw my gloves and helmet and stick up,” said Keedon about the tournament win.
Mark Krayetski, who is the head coach, and has a daughter on the team, thought this would be a good tournament for the kids to participate in not only because it gave them the opportunity to travel and play new teams, but because they could start playing with the new pee wee rules which are trickling in from the United States.
Krayetski was not surprised when the buzzer went off declaring them the winners of the tournament. They had already won every game they played and had beat the other team beforehand.
“It was just a matter of doing what made them successful all weekend which was moving the puck, keep skating and let their skill come through,” he said.
Krayetski was happy the season ended on such a high note for the players.
“It wasn’t an Aboriginal tournament so to be on an Aboriginal team that’s traveled that far, and everybody has put in that kind of commitment, was a really good way to end our year. I was really proud they went down there and stuck to the game plan and let their skill come through and stay the course through some of the games they were nervous about,” he said.