Tragic incident puts somber tone on Senator’s Cup final

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Players and referees bow their heards during a pre-game smudging ceremony after the passing of a one-year-old girl in an accident in the Art Hauser Centre parking lot prior to Sunday’s Senator’s Cup final.

The fifth Senator’s Cup champion was crowned Sunday as the Norway House Bruins picked up a 5-3 win over the Canoe Lake Young Guns.

However, the final was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind following a tragic incident in the Art Hauser Centre parking lot earlier in the evening that took the life of a one-year-old girl.

“It was an emotional game and night for everyone here,” Bruins forward Myles Stevens said. “It’s such a sad story with what happened here tonight.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and we are wishing them the best.”

With the accident occurring prior to the gold medal game, there was some talk around the rink that the final would be cancelled.

After a meeting, the organizers decided to continue with the tournament, with a prayer and smudging ceremony taking place prior to the opening faceoff.

“There’s never an easy way to go about things when something as terrible as what happened tonight takes place,” Prince Albert Grand Council sports recreation and culture director Tami McKenzie said.

“All of us met and came to the decision to continue with the tournament. Everyone came together before and after the game to pray for the family and I think everyone played a great game.”

The final itself was an exciting affair as the Bruins captured their first title after finishing in the runner-up spot the last three years.

“We had lost to the Young Guns earlier in the weekend so to have a second chance to beat them is something that we were all happy about,” Stevens said.

“The majority of our team is local and we’ve played together now for the last six years. We’ve stuck together through all of the challenges and I think the way that we all dug deep was the key to us winning this weekend.”

Stevens had a hat trick for the Bruins in the final, with their other goals coming from Daniel Stagg and Wayne Folsler.

Trent Campbell, Nathan Boyer and Jared Iron found the back of the net for the Young Guns, who were undefeated heading into Sunday’s final.

Campbell and Iron also received tournament awards as they took home the best forward and top scorer honours respectively.

Brent Wilson (best defenceman), Ryan Pearson (best goalie) and Skylar Reaume (most valuable player) each won accolades for the Bruins.

Although the tournament ended on a somber note, the organizers were pleased with the turnouts during the weekend as the Art Hauser Centre had big crowds for all three days of tournament play.

“We didn’t think that the addition of two more teams to make it a 12-team field would make that much of a difference, but it really did,” McKenzie said.

“It felt like a (Prince Albert) Raiders games at time with the atmosphere in here. There were so many people here and a lot of great hockey games.”