Hockey players from across Canada take in a performance by Cowichan’s Tzinquaw Dancers during the opening ceremonies of the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships at the Island Savings Centre on Monday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Hockey players from across Canada take in a performance by Cowichan’s Tzinquaw Dancers during the opening ceremonies of the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships at the Island Savings Centre on Monday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

VIDEO: National Aboriginal Hockey Championships get underway

Games run all week at Island Savings Centre and Cowichan Lake Arena

Athletes from across Canada gathered in the Cowichan Valley on Monday for the start of the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.

Hundreds of hockey players, support staff and supporters will be in the Valley for the week for the tournament, which is being held at the Island Savings Centre and Cowichan Lake Sports Arena.

Both of B.C.’s teams got off to terrific starts as the female team shut out Saskatchewan 5-0 at the Island Savings Centre in the afternoon, and the male team defeated Eastern Door and the North (Quebec) 7-4 in the evening game at the same rink.

The male team’s victory came immediately after the opening ceremonies, which featured performances by the Tzinquaw Dancers and Métis jiggers. Organizers noted that for many of the visiting players, this was their first time not only outside of their home provinces, but outside of their communities.

Games will continue at both venues throughout the week. On Tuesday, B.C.’s male team faces Ontario in Lake Cowichan at 10:30 a.m., and the female team takes on the North (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) in Duncan at 7 p.m.

On Wednesday, B.C.’s female team plays Alberta in Lake Cowichan at 1:30 p.m., and the male team faces Atlantic at 4:30 p.m.

Quarterfinal games run throughout the day on Thursday at both arenas, relegation games are at the Island Savings Centre and Cowichan Lake Arena on Friday, and semifinals are also on Friday, all at the ISC.

On Saturday, the female bronze medal game goes at 9 a.m. and the male bronze medal game is at noon. The female final begins at 3 p.m. and the male final is at 6 p.m. All Saturday games are at the Island Savings Centre.