Sure, his gold medal hangs a little heavy around his neck, but Ashton Vinnie doesn’t mind that a bit.
Vinnie, a Grade 11 student at Lillooet Secondary School, served as the backup goalie for the Team BC midgets when they won the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in the Cape Breton community of Membertou, Nova Scotia, earlier this month.
The eight-day competition featured 10 male and 10 female teams from across Canada
Team BC clinched the championship in a thrilling 6-5 overtime victory as B.C. rallied from a 5-2 deficit to score three third period goals, including the equalizer with just one second left on the clock in regulation time. Team BC then went on to score the winner in the first overtime.
Ashton Vinnie watched the nail-biter from the bench and then swarmed the ice with his teammates to congratulate overtime hero Dylan Devers.
Vinnie saw action in one game, which Team BC lost.
“We played well throughout the tournament,” he told the News.
He says his experience at the Nationals was invaluable and will help him next season, when he’s back playing for the Lillooet Pistons, and into the future, when he hopes to pursue a hockey scholarship at a U.S. college.
“It was crazy playing against the high-tiered players,” said Vinnie.
Born and raised in Lillooet, Vinnie began playing organized hockey at the age of seven. He started out playing forward, but switched later to playing goal, which he finds more enjoyable.
He was selected for Team BC after attending a tryout camp in Kamloops.
Vinnie was cheered on in Nova Scotia by his proud mom Kitrina McDonald, his three-month-old brother Easton (who actually did no cheering) and his grandmother Dolores McDonald.
His favourite goalie is Marc-Andre Fleury, who has led the Vegas Golden Knights to the Western Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
His coach at the Nationals was former NHLer Dwayne Roloson, who played 606 games for the Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota North Stars, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning.