Two-year-old Mattias Wilson of Fort Rupert rips a slap shot during a break between games in last weekend's Oilers Memorial ball-hockey tournament at Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy.

Two-year-old Mattias Wilson of Fort Rupert rips a slap shot during a break between games in last weekend's Oilers Memorial ball-hockey tournament at Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy.

Regulators, G&N Memorial win ball hockey titles

PORT HARDY - Annual tournament pays tribute to Johnny Walkus.

PORT HARDY — The third annual Oilers Memorial ball-hockey tournament, begun as a tribute to the late Clarence Walkus, was changed this year to a memorial for John Walkus, who died a year ago.

John’s son, tournament founder and director Dennis Walkus, got some recognition of his own last weekend after joining friends outside Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena for a photo session.

“They took me outside and told me everyone wanted to take some pictures,” said Dennis. “We were standing there talking, then they brought out this giant birthday cake.”

Walkus’s birthday cake was cut and shared among participants in the tournament, which drew seven mens and four women’s teams of local athletes.

While spectators enjoyed the fellowship of gatherings in the bleachers and at rinkside, the action on the court was fast and furious.

The Regulators took the men’s championship with a victory over Skookum in Sunday’s finals.

The women’s championship trophy went to G&N Memorial with its win over Gil’s Girls.

In the men’s third-place game, Perry Walkus scored a pair of goals and Carson Porter added a tally as the Fort Rupert Roaches topped the Wolfpack.

Dennis Walkus has used the tournament to memorialize different family members in each of its three years. After honouring his brother, Clarence, in 2009, the tournament in 2010 memorialized his mother Mary and sister, Doreen.

Dennis Walkus said his father is recognized as one of the founders of hockey on North Island reserves.

“Before there were hockey sticks up here, he used to carve sticks from alder branches,” Dennis said. Last week’s tournament, moved from its original scheduled June date, was played on the anniversary of John Walkus’s death in August, 2010.