Summerland Steam defenceman Nate McIsaac captained the Team B.C. Under-18 male squad to a bronze medal at the 2022 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Membertou, Nova Scotia, May 7-14.
The third-place finish meant back-to-back bronze medals for the squad, who last won bronze at the 2019 NAHC in Whitehorse, Yukon (a tournament was not held the previous two years due to the pandemic).
Their journey to a bronze medal started with them going 2-2 in the preliminary round losing 6-4 to the North, defeating Eastern Door & North 3-2, shutting out Team Atlantic 5-0, and losing to Saskatchewan 6-0. In the quarter-finals, Team BC found redemption from their tournament opener loss by beating the North 7-5. The win put them in the semi-finals, which they lost against Ontario 4-1 (Ontario went on to win the gold medal). In the bronze medal game, Team BC defeated Eastern Door & North 5-1.
McIsaac put up seven points in seven games and liked how he performed and learned how to become a leader with the responsibility he was given by the coaching staff. Playing with a younger team, he gained knowledge on how to guide the group to win important games. He learned to be a positive influence, especially helping his teammates through the ups and downs they went through. He stepped up when needed, especially when they felt nervous in the semi-final and bronze medal game.
McIsaac said it felt really good to win the bronze medal.
“We put a lot of hard work into each and every game. We had some challenges against Ontario and Saskatchewan,” said McIsaac of West Kelowna. “We knew going into the bronze that it was a big game for us. Winning it just meant a lot to the guys.”
The tournament was a great experience with the group they had. Team B.C. had an ID camp a month before the tournament and got a feel of what their team was going to be like.
“The coaches did a really good job of bringing the group together and working with us to perform at our best,” he said.
The quality of hockey at the NAHC was really good, and McIsaac noted that players on Team Ontario and Saskatchewan forced them to step up their pace. The overall speed in the tournament was something he noticed as well as physical play and work ethic.
“Every single team we played, you couldn’t take a period off,” he said. “Every team would work so hard. They would capitalize on the opportunities if you gave it to them.”