Dauphin's Zach Grouette spent last week in Yukon for the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship and he came home with a gold medal.
Zach and the Manitoba men polished off Saskatchewan in the final, 6-1 to claim the title. The tournament featured all of the best aboriginal midget aged hockey players in Canada.
With the 6-1 score, the game was never really in doubt, but that doesn't mean the finish wasn't as emotional as if they won 1-0 in quadruple overtime.
"It felt amazing, it was just a great experience and it was a ton of fun meeting new guys. I had a blast," commented Zach. "Words can't even explain how it felt. It was a speechless moment for me. It's something I've always dreamed of doing and winning."
Zach and the rest of the Manitoba men took the long route to winning the title. They played in the bronze medal game against British Columbia. The team found out during the first intermission that Alberta was disqualified from the event. That meant that the winner of Manitoba and British Columbia would play for a gold medal and the loser would be awarded bronze.
Manitoba put up five goals in a 5-3 win to advance to the gold medal game while BC was given bronze.
"Our coach asked us if we wanted to win a gold medal and he said we had a second chance," added Grouette. "So we picked up the pace in the second and third period against BC and we wanted it more than them. It really was a life-changing moment."
Zach's gold medal will never go away, but his focus is now on something else. He will train all summer long as he looks to crack a junior roster in the fall after aging out of midget hockey. Grouette is looking forward to the challenge and he's hoping the NAHC helped him prepare.
"It was great hockey and I had to face a lot of top quality shots," added Grouette.
Grouette was also joined by former Rangers teammate Jaegar Lapointe.
"Jaegar definitely made the start of the tournament a lot easier on me because I didn't really know anyone going in," said Lapointe. "It's always a lot of fun playing with him."