The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC) are back after two years of cancellations due to Covid-19 and that means Team North is also back.

The 2022 edition of the championships will be held in Membertou, N.S., and it’s just a boys team that will be making the trip this time. There will be no girls squad this year due to timing, according to Kyle Kugler, Hockey North’s executive director.

“We didn’t feel it would be realistic and the coaches made the decision to hold off for a year,” Kugler said. “The boys team asked to wait on making the decision for 2022 and they were able to get things together. Going forward, the goal is to have a girls team ready for the 2023 tournament.”

The boys team comprises players from all three territories, with the majority hailing from Nunavut. Six of the boys are from the NWT and from that, four are from Yellowknife, including McKinley Talbot, who will be making both his first and last appearance with Team North. He’ll be too old for next year’s tournament as it’s a U18 event.

Still, he said he’s proud to suit up with the squad.

“It’s special to be able to represent the North as an Indigenous hockey player,” he said. “Not too many kids get the chance to do something like this and I’m hoping to make the most of it.”

The other Yellowknife players on the team include Crew True-Jewell, who plays with the Rink Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C.; Carter McLeod, who’s at the Edge School in Calgary; and Emmery Golchert, who’s playing at Shawnigan Lake School in B.C.

Talbot, who’s with the Carl’s U18 high-performance team in Yellowknife, said outside of the Yellowknife players, he doesn’t know too many of his future teammates.

“I know a couple of the kids from Whitehorse because I played with them on the (Yukon) Rivermen team a couple of years ago,” he said. “From what I’ve seen, it looks like we have a solid group of guys that are playing at a high level.”

Team North has hit the podium once before — at the 2016 tournament in Mississauga, Ont., when the boys scored a silver medal. Talbot is optimistic that they can reach that height again.

“If we play well, there’s no reason we can’t get a medal,” he said. “If we can get off to a quick start, we’ll be in good shape because it’s such a short tournament and you don’t want to make any mistakes early.”

The event schedule hasn’t yet been released, but Team NWT’s potential opposition could include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, B.C., Ontario North and South, Eastern Door and the North (Quebec) as well as the Atlantic provinces.

Having Team North return to the tournament was up in the air after the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT, which had organized every facet of the outfit, announced in 2019 that it would no longer look after the day-to-day operations. The main reason was the cost; the budget for the 2019 championships was a little under $200,000, with no assistance from either Yukon or Nunavut.

READ MORE: Future of Team North at National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in doubt

Aaron Wells, the Aboriginal Sports Circle’s executive director, said he’s quite pleased to see Team North back in the saddle.

“We worked with Kyle on handing over the uniforms and the logo,” Wells said. “Kyle has been sitting in on the (NAHC) meeting calls and we worked with Ryan (St. John, team manager) as well. I’m happy that there’s a Team North at that tournament and hopeful that we can build a relationship with those in charge of running the operation.”

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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