By Andrea Walker
1989-1990 was a banner year for midget hockey in Ashcroft, as the Aboriginal Enterprises team, under the leadership of coaches Carl Minnabarriet and Ray Chenier, battled their way through league play and found themselves representing the Thompson Cariboo Minor Hockey Association (Ashcroft) at the Midget “A” Provincial Championships.
And what a memorable time that was, as the team emerged victorious in a nail-biter of a final!
Fast forward to 2018, when an alumni team was formed to play in the annual Beer Belly Tournament in Ashcroft over the weekend of Dec. 7.
Comprised of a blend of former Aboriginal Enterprises players spanning the years 1988 to 1990, the group played (with a little less intensity) with pride, reconnected, and shared many memories.
Not only were the players on the ice rekindling “old memories”, the parents who cheered them on as teens were on hand to cheer them on as men. What a great reunion!
Thank you to Raymond Chenier and Troy Oram, who contacted as many of the original players as they could and worked hard to put together the team.
Their newly purchased jerseys were identical to the “old” ones, with the players even wearing their original numbers; the only new addition was the word “Alumni”.
A very touching ceremony took place at centre ice after the second game. The owner of Aboriginal Enterprises at the time of the midget heyday was Leslie Edmonds. When the Elephant Hill wildfire tore through the Ashcroft Reserve, it completely destroyed Leslie’s home and all its contents.
In the house was a treasured hockey jacket that the team had ordered after their provincial win, complete with the team logo, name, and “Provincial Champs 1989-90” embroidered on the back.
A former Aboriginal Enterprises team member, Bill Walker, donated his “old” but still good hockey jacket, and the “Provincial Champs 1989-90” embroidery was applied to the back. Surrounded by former players and coach Carl Minnabarriet, Leslie was presented with this very special jacket to replace the one he lost to the fire.
Most of the team members still live fairly close to Ashcroft, but a couple travelled quite a distance to play with the “alumnus”. Dennis Fletcher came from Nova Scotia, while Shaun Walker travelled from Florida.
Original Aboriginal Enterprises team members who played were Troy Oram, Dave Smit, Shaun Walker, Vince McGrath, Dusty McLellan, Dennis Fletcher, Vegas Antoine, Gilby Pasco, Raymond Chenier, Gary Dickinson, and Mike Walker.
Additions for this tournament were Stone Minnabarriet and goalie Frank Antoine.