Sudbury

48th Little NHL tournament bigger, better

President Marian Jacko says a record 229 teams have signed up, with a recent surge in the number of girls playing contributing to the increase.

Boost in girls' enrolment boon for 4-day tournament

The Little NHL is considering boosting the number of days the tournament runs to 5 days. (Submitted by Peter Collins)

The 48th edition of the Little Native Hockey League is bigger and better than ever.

This year, more than 2,500 competitors from Indigenous communities in Ontario are participating.

President Marian Jacko says a record 229 teams have signed up, with a recent surge in the number of girls playing contributing to the increase.

Jacko said there are 43 girls' teams competing in the 4-day tournament this year, up from 32.

"Girls' hockey is growing exponentially across the province," Jacko said. "And for myself I'm a huge supporter of girls hockey, both of my girls also play hockey."

"It's an opportunity too that I was not afforded when I was younger and I always wanted to play but never had the opportunity so I'm a really strong supporter of promoting girls' hockey."

The increase in teams also has the tournament's executive considering increasing the number of days the tournament runs.

On the Little NHL website, a statement from the tournament executive said:

"We want you to know that we are trying very hard to maintain the uniqueness of the LNHL tournament in keeping with the original intent of the Founding Fathers of the LNHL." 

"With the growth in numbers it has become extremely difficult to fit over 500 games in four days.  As we have said, in the history of the LNHL, we have never turned a team down and we are not about to start now. "

The event takes place in Mississauga, March 11 to 14.