Battle of the Little Big Puck
Battle of the Little Big Puck 2013
The cowboys and Indians are facing off, with one lone Mountie between them. He drops the puck and the battle is on: The Battle of the Little Big Puck.
For the past 34 years, in the depths of a February freeze, the cowboys of Maple Creek and the men of Nekaneet First Nation have been lacing up their skates and doing battle for charity in this grown-up game of Cowboys and Indians.
“You might be hard pressed to find a community anywhere in Canada where you could call it a game of Cowboys and Indians and not offend anybody,” Joe Braniff told Prairies North in 2013. “Where else could you put two cultures against each other in a hockey game, with bragging rights and everything else at stake, and not turn it into a war? Both sides are very proud of that.”
The first two periods are run more or less like a regular hockey game, with modified rules; for example, rather than penalty minutes, the punishment is a free shot on goal.
“The referees have made calls like ‘you’re looking too good’ or ‘you’re skating too fast.’” It’s all in fun. We want people in the stands to see that we all get along and it’s been a joy to do that over the years,” said Dale Mosquito in our 2013 article.
The third period is what everyone is waiting for, though — when the “cowboys” and the “Indians” finish the game in full cowboy gear or pow wow regalia. The costumes hinder their skating skills somewhat, but the brightly costumed hockey players are a sight to behold.
The 34th Annual Battle of the Little Big Puck is on Feb. 20, 2016. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Maple Creek Community Arena. For more information, check out our events calendar.