The Takhini Arena in Whitehorse was buzzing with teams and fans as about 600 hockey players from across northern B.C., N.W.T. and Yukon gathered for the annual Yukon Native Hockey Tournament on Friday.
Karee Vallevand says this tournament is not just about the hockey.
“It's a shopping trip for people in the communities, it's a big chance to get to see everybody and just hang out and watch some great hockey. The biggest part of the tournament is the social aspect of it. It's just huge."
Vallevand is one of the event’s organizers — but that’s term that can be used loosely at this tournament.
“Up until last night, the teams, the rosters not set until they step on the ice,” Vallevand says. “There's players going from one team to another, so what you see in our program? It could be totally different by the time they step on the ice."
About 40 teams are registered for the three-day event.
There's a record number of women taking part this year.
And for the first time in 20 years, the tournament will include a “C-division," for community players not wanting the rough and tumble in the top-level competition.
All three city arenas are being used for the weekend events.
This year's awards include MVP, team spirit and the hockey mom award.