Last weekend, Yukon’s Canada Winter Games women’s hockey team travelled outside the territory for the third time this season, testing itself against strong BC teams in the Penticton Female Midget AAA Tournament of Excellence.
After winning the silver medal at a female midget AA tournament in Burnaby in November, and playing a weekend series of games against Team NWT at the end of that month, the players faced their biggest challenge to date: AAA competition.
The Yukoners hit the ice against eight teams from across BC, including a very strong Penticton-based team from the famed Okanagan Hockey Academy.
In its first game, Yukon fell 6-1 to the Comox Valley North Island Edge with Jessica Trotter being the lone Yukon goal scorer.
In the second game, Teslin’s Jocelyn Boutilier notched the only Yukon goal, as the team was defeated 7-1 by the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Penticton Vees.
In the third game, played against Williams Lake, Yukon faced the first-string goalie for BC’s Canada Games Team, and was shut out 4-0 even though the shots on net for both teams were close.
Yukon finally broke its slump in the fourth game; a 4-3 win against the Grand Forks Thunder Cats, was by far their strongest showing, led by the scoring ability of Trotter (2 goals) and Boutilier (2 goals) and the playmaking of defenceman Mallory Lesage.
Head coach Randy Merkel admitted that by putting his young team (half the team is 13 or 14) in a high-level tournament designed for 15 to 17 year olds, he was essentially throwing them to the wolves.
But he was impressed how they responded even though they won just one of their four games. “This tourney will help push the team to the next level”, said Merkel. “By going to Penticton, we raised the bar by showing these young women what higher-level female hockey looks like.”
Merkel emphasized that the coaches’ expectations of the players will grow as the Canada Games gets closer.”Now we know what we have to work on for the next six weeks before the games,” Merkel added.
The coach noted that this was a “sink or swim” experience for the team in that it featured faster, rougher and longer hockey games than what the girls are accustomed to.
He was very pleased with what he saw. “Most players lifted their game to the next level,” he said.
The team’s captain, 15-year-old Jessica Trotter of Haines Junction, said the team was pretty nervous going into the tournament not knowing what to expect from midget AAA hockey.
The team learned a lot in Penticton, she said, and this experience will help the team prepare mentally for the Games where the competition will be a lot tougher. Commenting on winning the fourth and final game, Trotter said that before the game the team considered it’s approach to the game and was determined not to lose.
During the tournament, Team Yukon got to play in one of Canada’s most magnificent hockey shrines, the Penticton Memorial Arena.
It has been the focal point of Penticton’s hockey scene since 1951. It is a living museum with an incredible amount of Penticton’s storied hockey history displayed inside dating back to when the Penticton Vees won the Allan Cup in 1954, and the World Championship in 1955.
Now, this grand arena is the home of the successful Penticton Vees Junior A hockey team.
are selling quickly
The Opening Ceremonies for the 2007 Canada Winter Games have sold out. With less than six weeks to go, all Games tickets are selling quickly.
“We all know it’s traditional in the Yukon to wait for the last minute, and then buy tickets,” said Piers McDonald, 2007 Canada Winter Games president.
“We want to make sure that people know the tickets are selling out, so they don’t wait too long to get theirs.”
So far, the demand for tickets has been high. A third National Artists Program performance, Defining Moments, was added after the first two sold out. Tickets for the closing ceremony on March 10th are also still available, but are selling quickly.
Sport finals are selling out too.
Gold medal hockey games, bronze medal men’s hockey, women’s hockey semi-final and both men’s and women’s curling finals have all sold out.
Tickets for boxing finals and hockey, boxing and curling semi final rounds are still available.
Week passes are also available and give spectators access to all sport competition and preliminary round competitions of hockey, boxing and curling.
The closing ceremony — on March 10th, at ATCO Place in downtown Whitehorse — will be the finale of the Games.
Whitehorse 2007 will pass the torch to the 2009 Canada Games.
Laurel Parry, vice-president of culture, ceremonies and protocol, is pleased with the strong community response to cultural ticket sales and encourages all Yukoners to attend the closing ceremony.
“The closing ceremony will reflect the culmination of two weeks of intense competition by our participants and hard work by our volunteers,” said Parry. “They will definitely be an energetic celebration of our successful Games.”
AON Flames 6
Medicine Chest 3
Dave Bakica scored a pair for the Flames, as they doubled up on the Medicine Chest crew. Brian Boorse scored two goals as well. Al Lane and Morley Lessard added singles.
Bruce Williams, Scott Lowery and Grant Lyon scored for the Chest.
Yukon Inn 8
Dave Pearson had an impressive four-goal night for the Yukon Inn team, and Lester Balsillie and Kelly Collins, Greg Bull and Carl Burgess scored as well.
Glen Heinbigner and Blaine Demchuk scored for the Turbos.
Peewee division (Sunday)
Yellow Cab 8
Skookum Construction 4
Colin Kabanak, Mike Arnold and Lane Yaklin all scored a pair of goals for the cabbies on Sunday, as they trounced Skookum. Kai Breithaupt and Mason Gray scored as well.
Seamus Beairsto netted two for Skookum, and Scott Meredith and Tyrell Hope also scored.