Bryan McGregor his son Brodie who played for the Wikwemikong Jr. Thunderbirds boys and Brodie's younger brother.

Bryan McGregor his son Brodie who played for the Wikwemikong Jr. Thunderbirds boys and Brodie’s younger brother.

By Sam Laskaris

Another chapter of the Little Native Hockey League Tournament has been written.
The 45th annual edition of the event, which is more commonly simply called the Little NHL Tournament, wrapped up on Thursday in Mississauga.
A record 195 Native youth teams from across the province took part in this year’s tourney. The number of clubs broke the previous record of 178 squads that had participated at the 2015 tournament, also staged in Mississauga.
Many of this year’s participants were the sons and daughters of those who had previously played in the tournament themselves.
For example, six-year-old Brodie Shawanda suited up for the Wikwemikong Jr. Thunderbirds boys’ Tyke team. Though he’s just six, Shawanda was participating in his third consecutive Little NHL Tournament.
He still has a ways to go, however, to match the 11 tournament appearances made by his father Bryan McGregor.
“They lost all their games,” McGregor said of his son’s squad this season. “But that didn’t matter. They still had a lot of fun.”
While in Mississauga, Shawanda and his teammates also were fortunate enough to showcase their talents at an Ontario Hockey League match. They played a mini-game during the intermission of a Mississauga Steelheads’ contest on Wednesday night.
“All the kids loved it,” McGregor said. “They had just as much fun with that as they did in the tournament.”
McGregor’s family has a storied connection to the Little NHL Tournament. His father Lloyd has been a longtime member of the tourney’s executive.
And Lloyd McGregor’s cousin Jim, who attended this week’s event, was one of the founders of the tournament back in 1971.
Though he’s no longer playing, Bryan McGregor continues to get a big kick by coming to the tournament. And not just because his son is participating.
“Our whole family is here and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “It’s just amazing. I’ve met a lot of friends from other teams just by coming here every year. It’s like a big family when we all come back here now.”
Though he is also too old to participate in the tournament now, Bryan McGregor’s 20-year-old brother Nicholas continues to attend the event.
He competed in the tournament 10 times. He won a championship in his first appearance with a Wikwemikong club. He also represented the First Nation, nicknamed Wiky, eight other times. But his only other championship came during his final year of eligibility when he played in the Midget ranks with a Moose Factory squad.
“There’s just something about being in this environment,” Bryan McGregor said. “I don’t mind that it is held during March Break. If I had the opportunity to go to Cuba or to the Little NHL, 100 per cent of the time I would pick the Little NHL.”
Now that he’s a third-year Sports Psychology student at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Bryan McGregor took a week off his classes in order to attend this year’s tournament.
“I was caught up on all my classes and I finished an assignment and handed it in this morning,” he said on Thursday.
Though he does not have any of his own children yet, Bryan McGregor is hoping that one day his offspring will take part in the Little NHL Tournament.
“I would love to see them play in a Wiky jersey,” he said.

45th ANNIVERSARY – CHAMPIONSHIP DAY GAMES
DIVISION
TEAM
SCORE
TEAM
SCORE
Atom A
Six Nations
9
Walpole Island
4
Novice A
CMO
8
Akwesasne
3
Atom A
Six Nation Wolverines
3
Akwesasne
0
Pee Wee A
Curve Lake
7
AOK Eagles
6
Bantam A
Whitefish River Warriors
2
Six Nations Ironmen
4
Midget A
Nipissing
2
Aamjiwnaang
1
Atom Girls
Garden River
3
Whitefish River
1
Pee Wee Girls
Chippewa of the Thames
3
Wikwemikong
1
Bantam Girls
Chippewa of the Thames
1
Six Nations
0
Midget Girls
CMO
1
Moose Factory
0