By Sam Laskaris
For Cody Boissoneau it was a perfect way to end a lengthy week.
Boissoneau coached a pair of Garden River teams to championships on Thursday as the Little Native Hockey League Tournament wrapped up in Mississauga.
A total of 178 squads took part in the 44th annual running of the event, which is often simply called the Little NHL Tournament.
For starters, Boissoneau led the Garden River Tyke’ boys squad to a 12-5 victory over the CMO (Chippewas Muncey Oneida) Riverhawks.
This squad featured Boissoneau’s daughter Kaia, the team’s goalie. Also on the roster were a pair of Boissoneau’s nephews, Dreyon Boissoneau and Evan Headrick, who netted a whopping seven goals in the final and was chosen as his squad’s MVP.
“It feels really good to win,” said seven-year-old Evan. “I’m really happy coming here and winning this tournament.”
Later in the day Boissoneau guided the Garden River Atom girls’ team to victory. This squad blanked Akwesasne 6-0 in its final.Boissoneau’s daughter Maiana was a member of the Atom club. And his niece Mya Headrick was also on the roster and chosen as the MVP.
The elder Boissoneau was not all that surprised to see both of his teams capture championship titles.
“You always have high expectations coming into a tournament,” he said. “With the talent and the work ethic we had, we knew we could be successful. We played some really good opponents and we were lucky to come out on top.”
The 32-year-old Boissoneau is no stranger to this tournament. While growing up he himself played in the event about a dozen times and won a few championships.
And now that he’s in his sixth year of coaching, he’s already won four tournament titles.
The tournament is traditionally held in March, as school-aged children have a week off. Boissoneau is not complaining his March Break often includes attending this tournament.
“My wife and I are committed to athletics and education,” he said. “We’ve joked about going on vacation somewhere for March Break. But we wouldn’t trade this in for anything.”
This marked the third consecutive year the Little NHL Tournament has been held in Mississauga. This year signified a new record in terms of participating squads, up from 164 entrants last year.
A pair of northern Ontario communities, the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation and the Whitefish River First Nation served as tournament co-hosts this year.
Little NHL president Marvin Assinewai has confirmed the 2016 tournament will also be staged in Mississauga.
“There is still room for growth,” he said, adding the tournament’s executive will host next year’s tourney. “We might hit 200 teams.”