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Benjamin Hochman is a sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Calahoo, Alberta, is so small, it’s a one-rink hamlet.

“It’s very tiny – to drive through, it’s going to take you 10 seconds,” said Blues coach Craig Berube, who improbably ascended from Calahoo to play 17 seasons in the National Hockey League – and now is coaching in the Stanley Cup Final. “You got a general store on the right. Then you got a church, then you got some ball fields, then you got a hockey rink. Then you’re out of the town.”

Berube grew up on a farm – “Not only grain crops, but cattle,” he said – and grew as a hockey player on frozen ponds. In later years, he’d play at the local rink, which is called Calahoo Arena.

“But it might have to get changed to the Craig Berube Rink if he wins the Cup,” said Matt Berube, the rink manager, whose father is first cousins with the Blues’ coach.

Outside of the rink is a large white sign with red lettering: “Welcome to CALAHOO.” Above the words is a logo similar to old logo of the Cleveland Indians – a man wearing a headdress.

There isn’t a local bar or coffee shop in Calahoo – “There’s one little table in our general store where you can have coffee,” Matt said – but when folks see each other lately, notably at the rink, they’re talking about the St. Louis Blues.

“Everybody is so proud to know that he came from here,” said Matt, who estimated that “between 75-100” Berubes live in Calahoo or within a 15-kilometer radius.

Craig’s own parents – Ramona and Roger Berube – still live in Calahoo. So does Craig’s sister. Even in his late 70s, Roger Berube played in a weekly hockey league at Calahoo Arena. Matt described it as an “old-timers league – all the elders in the town and community get together and play.” But last fall, at 80, Roger Berube finally had to hang up his skates.

The rink is often busy. The 2016 Canadian Census tallied 85 people in Calahoo itself, but those from Rivière Qui Barre and other nearby hamlets routinely come to play. Many on the ice, just like the coach of the Blues, have native ancestry.

The Canadian counterparts to Native Americans are called First Nations. Craig Berube is Cree. Well, part-Cree. He left Calahoo at 16 and soon picked up the nickname “Chief.” A lot of First Nations hockey players picked up the nickname “Chief.” Berube said his grandmother “was native,” and he grew up playing hockey and baseball with many Cree children.

“What you had to have back then was a Métis card,” Berube said of a certified ID card. “It’s a half-white, half-native type card Because, you know, I look white, and I’d go play in these hockey tournaments. They’d want to know if I had native in me. They’d check you out and stuff. Métis is what you call a person that is white and native.”

On November 21, 2013, then as the coach of Philadelphia, coach Berube and his Flyers played the Sabres, coached by Ted Nolan, who is Ojibwe. And so, it was a historic night – the first NHL game in which both coaches were of First Nations descent.

It’s believed that if Berube coaches the Blues to a Stanley Cup championship, that will be another first for First Nations.

Sure enough, Nolan’s son, Jordan, played 14 games for the Blues this season. While Jordan doesn’t dress for the playoff games, he’s with the team.

“I am definitely a proud of who I am and where I come from,” Jordan said. “My dad always instilled that in us growing up. … Ojibwe is Northern Ontario, and there are lots of Cree all over the place. Everyone has their own tribe, depending on where you’re from, and some of the remote communities, they still speak their language. But there are not many who speak the language anymore – Ojibwe is rarely spoken on our reserve. And the kids were sent to residential schools and told not to speak their language anymore, so that’s how we lost a lot of our language. It’s important to keep it.”

As for the First Nations communities, Berube succinctly said: “The reserves, some do well, and some don’t. Basically the same (as in the United States).”

During summers, Jordan and Ted Nolan have a hockey school. They go to small First Nations communities. They teach some hockey. But really, they’re there to share their stories and experiences.

“I think our youth need good role models,” Jordan said. “A lot of kids are struggling in these communities, and a lot of them kind of get lost, because lots of them live in the middle of nowhere, and they don’t have a way to get out. They really don’t have too much guidance. So we try go in there and tell our story.

“Everybody has been through hard times, I’ve been through hard times. I’ve been sober now for five years. So it’s good for our kids to hear that story. I really just think they need someone they can look up to and say – ‘Wow, he was in a place that I was in, so if he can do it, I can do it.’ … We’re trying to raise good people and good leaders in our community.”

Hard to find a better example of a leader than the coach of a team playing for the Stanley Cup.

Craig Berube, a Cree from tiny Calahoo.