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In their 6th season, the Beardy's Blackhawks Midget AAA managed to clinch the 2001 Saskatchewan Provincial Midget AAA Hockey and Air Canada Cup Western Regional Championships. As a relatively new organization, the Blackhawks appear to be heading in the right direction as the only First Nation based triple `A' minor franchise team in the province.
The long team meetings and additional hard training have paid off for the Blackhawks organization. "There has been so much support from the Beardy's & Okemasis First Nation, they have stood behind their community pride and joy from the beginning," said Mel Parenteau.
As first-year General Manager, Mel Parenteau has taken the Beardy's Blackhawks from 4th in the division last year to league champions this spring. This is accredited to excellent scouting, coaching staff and community support.
Having Dale Grayston as head coach and Jim McComas, Brad Toporowski and Travis Laycock as assistant coaches provided the chemistry to ignite the team performance. Without these structural mechanisms in place, the team championship might have been won by another franchise. Immediately after Mel Parenteau was hired as GM of the Blackhawks, he states, " I wanted to pursue new fundraising activities and incorporate those opportunities to our public relations strategies. Providing it was beneficial to existing/future partnerships with private/public, corporate communities and First Nation Governments in respect to fostering long-term sponsorships for the franchise."
The Board of Directors of the Blackhawks has a strong desire to be consistent and well organized prior to any major decision-making regarding the team's mandate and overall objectives. It is during these times when young future NHL stars must continue following the foot" steps of previous First Nation NHL legends. Inspirational ex-NHL players like Fred Sasakamoose and retired Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Scott Daniels of Mistawasis First Nation.
Present NHL players like Chicago Blackhawks Blair Atcheynum, New York Islanders Rick Pilon and Ottawa Senators Wade Redden are role models for today's emerging players. With the likes of rising WHL stars John Merasty and Arron Star, who strive to be in the NHL in the forthcoming years. They appear to know their place in junior hockey and what they must do to be successful and at the top of their game.
Mel Parenteau always realized the amount of skilled First Nation Minor Hockey Talent in Saskatchewan. He wants to do more than share his expertise as a former SJHL player himself with the 1970-72 Prince Albert Raiders. Mr. Parenteau's immediate goals are to establish a productive and highly skilled roster to repeat as Provincial Midget AAA Champs, in the upcoming 2001/2002 season.
Back in April of the year, the Beardy's Blackhawks represented Saskatchewan at The Western Region and Air Canada AAA National Championship in Prince George, British Columbia. "The team fell short of their expectations in Prince George, but the experience of competing at the highest triple 'A' hockey tournament in the world made it that much rewarding to try it again," says Parenteau.
The Beardy's Blackhawks Training Camp begins September 7-9, 2001 with exhibition games going until Sept.22. The first League Game will open against the Tisdale Trojans at Beardy's Arena on October 3rd. "The majority of last years winning squad will be returning and various WHL teams have already drafted them," explains Mel. This should be a positive outlook to another banner season, for this First Nation based franchise.
He further adds,"come out and see some exciting triple AAA hockey action and support your future First Nation NHL prospects this season." Best of luck to the Beardy's Blackhawks in their 7th season!