Man returns to Yukon Native Hockey Tournament — this time alongside his sons
For some young players, the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament is a rite of passage. For older players, the tournament — back this week after four years — can be a test of the body and mind.
And for Whitehorse resident Ryan Gleeson and his sons Brayden and Joshua, it's something that is now being shared across generations.
All three are playing this year, and the event marks a return to the ice for Ryan.
"I'll be playing in the 'A' division with the Storm," he said. "I walked away seven years ago. Took a few years for myself to recollect."
Ryan said he took a different approach to training after being away from the ice for so long.
"I'm definitely not in my 30s anymore," he said.
"I hit 40s this year it's a different feel to it. It's more about leaning toward body fitness and being mentally stronger. You can be the world's fittest guy, but if you don't have the mental aspect of it it's not worth it."
Ryan said his comeback this year is extra special because of his sons.
"My son Brayden Gleeson is going to be playing with me," he said. "I got my youngest in the lower division. He's ten, playing his first year, so I'll be coaching that as well. I don't think it's really going to hit until I see them on the ice," Ryan said.
"You know, never in my wildest dreams I thought I'd still be playing," Ryan said. "Or even coming back after seven years. Being on the ice with [Brayden], it's going to be quite emotional."
When asked if there is friendly competition between the father and his oldest son, Ryan simply said, "he knows who puts the bread on the table."
Joshua Gleeson-Blackjack has been playing hockey for the past five years. He says he is excited to play on the Junior Storm team.
"I've been practicing for a lot of time," Gleeson-Blackjack said. "I normally go to outdoor hockey rinks.
"I'm looking forward to like facing different teams, and also my dad is also coaching me."
Gleeson-Blackjack said this opportunity is more about having fun than it is to win.
19-year-old Brayden, on the other hand, wants to take home the gold.
"There's so much adrenaline rushing through me right now," Brayden said. "I can't wait."
Brayden called playing on the same team as his father a "really good experience." He's also looking forward to watching his younger brother play in the tournament.
"I'm really proud of him," Brayden said.
"Because it's his first year too, and we waited for like years for this hockey tournament, and he's really excited. I can see it in the smile on his face."
The Yukon Native Hockey Tournament began Thursday in Whitehorse and runs until Sunday.