He’s got the speed, the shot; he’s even got an unforgettable name.
It’s Tookalook, as in have you had a look at speedy No. 56 of the Deux Rives bantam BB hockey team?
Samson Tookalook is a relative newcomer to West Island hockey after arriving from the Inuit village of Umiujaq (pop. 444) in Nunavik.
Coach Ammar Naek said 14-year-old Tookalook does everything at top speed.
“First time I saw him play he was mesmerizing,” said Naek. “He was skating circles around guys. He gets up to speed in two strides. You can’t catch him.
“He’s got the best shot I’ve ever seen. He likes to go top corner.”
Not surprisingly, Tookalook said his favourite NHL player is Steven Stamkos “because he is a sniper with a great shot.”
So what’s a talent like Tookalook doing in bantam BB?
Apparently, he arrived too late for the local AA tryouts and was assigned to BB. Naek is hardly complaining. “It’s our gain,” he said. “Our team is already strong as it is, but he brings us to that next level where we are even better.”
“For a kid who’s never played contact before he’s hard to get off the puck,” Naek added.
“He’s average height but he’s big. He’s got big shoulders and he’s pretty built for a kid born in 1998.”
Tookalook is attending Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School while billeting at the home of teammate Jordan Michaud in Pierrefonds.
Peter Michaud, Jordan’s father, said Tookalook is in Montreal on a pilot program.
“His hockey and school are paid through the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program, and his family sends money to us for room and board.”
After some initial culture shock, Michaud said Tookalook is gradually adapting to suburban life in southern Quebec.
“He was shocked at first. There’s a lot of stuff he hasn’t seen before. I don’t think this is an insult to him, but it can be described as having a caveman with you. You know what I mean? Because of the way they eat, the way they hunt their food. And when he saw certain things we take for granted, he was stunned. We saw an apartment building and he looked at it and said ‘what’s that?”
“While our kids are playing video games, he’s out hunting. He does a lot of harpooning,” Michaud said.
“He eats the food we eat here, but normally he would eat whale, seal and caribou. But you can’t really find whale here. He likes our spaghetti, though.”
Junk food is forbidden, Michaud noted.
Naek said the shy Tookalook is making friends on the team.
“For a kid who didn’t know anybody at the beginning of the year, he’s adjusted very well,” Naek said. “He’s made lots of friends, and the other kids love him. They’ve never seen a kid from Nunavik before.”
Tookalook said the best aspects of life in the far North are “hunting, hockey and the cold.”
Michaud said Tookalook has been a welcome billet to his family.
“He and Jordan have bonded really well. The two of them are always out on the street shooting on the net and playing hockey.
“It’s been a very unique experience and a very good experience. Our family is learning a lot from him and he’s learning a lot from us,” Michaud said.