Manitoba was represented well at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. The U18 women's team earned a silver medal with the final match going down to the wire, and the U18 men's squad took home the top prize.
The Interlake Lightning program's presence was felt on both teams as goalie Rachel Halldorson started four games for the women's team, and forward Ian Buors scored four goals for the men.
Halldorson says the girls in front of her played a great tournament.
"I was very nervous as it was my first year competing in that tournament. I hadn't really played with any of these girls before but I knew of most of them," Halldorson explains. "We just had fun and competed our hardest. It was a good first experience, especially since we made it to the medal rounds. We were a very talented group."
The Manitoba female team outscored their opponents 34-5 in six games at the tournament but ultimately fell 2-1 in the gold medal match against Ontario. Halldorson says they held a 1-0 lead for nearly 50 minutes but couldn't hold on in the third.
The Lundar product is proud to have been Manitoba's starter. She says the coaching staff showing that level of confidence in her was very gratifying. Halldorson also played for Team Manitoba in the Canada Winter Games a few months ago.
"I think that helped put a little bit more confidence in me. It helped me believe in myself," Halldorson continues. "I also had a great group of girls, and our leadership was awesome."
The goalie believes these two experiences with Team Manitoba will help her immensely going into next season with the Lightning.
On the men's side of the ice, Ian Buors says this tournament is one of the biggest highlights of his hockey career thus far.
"It was a confidence booster because I haven't won a big title like that before. To win nationals with these guys was a great experience for me," says Buors. "I did well. I had four goals and one assist. I did better than I thought I was going to do, and I'm really proud of myself."
It took Buors a couple of games to get on the stat sheet, but once he scored his first goal in the third game, he found the back of the net in every contest the rest of the way.
Team Manitoba went undefeated at the NAHC. He says they won the gold medal game 5-2 over Ontario.
"After the final 10 seconds, it was a blur. The atmosphere was amazing, and to have our families there was great. It was unbelievable," Buors continues. "That was the biggest game I ever played in."
Buors feels much more confident now that he knows he can compete against some of the best hockey players in the country.