Seven Hockey Manitoba POE players will represent their province at the 2023 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships
It would appear that some of Manitoba’s best young hockey players did not finish their national tournament schedules in February.
In fact, seven players who represented Manitoba at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island will suit up for Indigenous Team Manitoba at the 2023 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Winnipeg, beginning this Sunday May 7th and running until Saturday May 13th at Seven Oaks Arena.
These young players are all tremendously talented and have bright futures ahead. Let’s meet them:
Rachel Halldorson (Goaltender, Lundar, Manitoba) – Halldorson is coming off an impressive showing at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. She is an athletic goaltender who continues to show steady improvements in her game. She posted an impressive .921 save percentage with the U18 AAA Interlake Lightning this past season. Halldorson will return to the Interlake Lightning next season and is expected to play a key role for Team Manitoba at the 2023 National Women’s U18 Championship this November.
Ella Stewner (Defence, East St. Paul, Manitoba) – Stewner is an excellent puck moving defender with a high hockey IQ. She has also won various academic awards as a student at Balmoral Hall. She is coming off a solid 2023 Canada Winter Games, where she posted a goal and two assists in six games. Stewner, who has committed to the University of Alberta next season, had a great year with the Balmoral Hall Blazers in the Junior Women’s Hockey League and is expected to anchor Team Manitoba’s back end at the 2023 NAHC.
Anya Misner (Forward, Cooks Creek, Manitoba) – Misner is a skilled forward who plays both centre and wing. Like Stewner, she was part of Team Manitoba’s gold medal winning team at the 2022 NAHC and she is looking to repeat in her home province. She had a strong 2022-23 season with the Balmoral Hall Blazers and then recorded three assists in six games for Team Manitoba at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. In addition to being a gifted hockey player, Misner is an excellent student and has committed to play for Carleton University next season.
Ayden Collins (Defenceman, Winnipeg, Manitoba) – Collins played this past season for the RINK Hockey Academy U16 team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL), posting one goal and 11 assists in 24 games. He also played three games for the RINK Hockey Academy’s U18 team. He’s a smart, two-way defenceman who plays a solid all-around game and played well U16 Team Manitoba at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. Collins was selected by the Winnipeg ICE in the eighth round of the 2022 Western Hockey League Draft.
Hayden Paupanekis (Forward, Winnipeg, Manitoba) – Paupanekis is a right winger who played this past season for the RINK Hockey Academy U18 team in the CSSHL, posting 23 goals and 16 assists in 29 games. He also played one game for the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs, who selected him in the third round of the 2022 WHL Draft. This will be the first time that the 6-foot-3 Paupanekis has represented Team Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship and he is expected to provide a significant amount of offense for his team. He was one of Team Manitoba’s best forwards at the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
Jett Lajoie (Forward, Winnipeg, Manitoba) – Lajoie played this past season for the U18 AAA Winnipeg Bruins, posting an impressive 23 goals and 28 assists in 39 regular season games, adding 9 points in 10 playoff games. Lajoie was selected by the Prince George Cougars in the second round of the 2022 WHL Draft (28th overall) and is considered a top prospect in their organization. A dynamic player who likes to shoot the puck, he had a goal and an assist in five games at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. Lajoie is expected to be a big part of the offence for Team Manitoba at the 2023 NAHC.
Maxx Hamelin (Forward, Winnipeg, Manitoba) – Hamelin was Lajoie’s teammate on the U18 AAA Winnipeg Bruins this past season, posting 16 goals and 27 assists in 43 regular season games. He followed that up by registering 9 points in 10 playoff games for the Bruins. Hamelin is a talented offensive player who has great vision and a high hockey IQ. He was selected by Saskatoon in the fourth round of the 2022 WHL Draft and had one assist in five games at the 2023 Canada Winter Games, displaying a high compete level and great poise with the puck. Like Lajoie, Hamelin will be counted on for offense at the 2023 NAHC.