Darius Elias was in a bittersweet situation at the weekend’s 32nd annual Yukon Native Hockey Tournament in Whitehorse.
As coach of both the Gwich’in Braves and the Gwich’in Gladiators, two youth division teams made up of players from Old Crow and Whitehorse, he had to divide his time between benches when the teams met in the semifinals.
“I went on both benches,” said Elias. “I went half on one, half on the other.”
The Braves took first with a 4-2 win over the Whitehorse Wolf Cubs in the finals Sunday. Braves’ Riley Pettitt did the most damage with two goals and an assist, while teammates Devaughn Davies and Colin Kabenek each produced goals.
Two years ago, the Braves finished in dead-last at the tournament. However, last year, with both the Braves and Gladiators entered, the two teams took the two top spots.
“I’m so proud of them, the community is proud of them,” said Elias, speaking of both teams. “I’ve got kids that played for me this weekend on broken ankles, this morning I watched kids block shots with their face—that’s how competitive this thing is.”
The Gladiators finished third with a loss to the Wolf Cubs Sunday evening.
Nanooks come back for ‘A’ division title
After becoming the only NWT team ever to win the division ‘A’ title, in 2000 and again in 2007, the EGT Nanooks out of Tuktoyaktuk have done it again.
Down 2-0 to Whitehorse’s Nannock Warriors at the end of the first, the Nanooks scored two goals in the second and two in the third for a 4-2 win in the finals.
“We stepped it up and started skating,” said Nanooks captain Jackie Jacobson. “We got our legs in the second period and started pushing them, forcing the play. By forcing so much they started making mistakes.”
Two Nanooks players had a three-point game in the finals. Cory Koski scored twice, the game winner and an empty-netter, and grabbed an assist. Tyler Stewart produced a pair of assists and opened the scoring for the Nanooks. Erwin Elias also scored.
“We’d like to dedicate our win to Bobby Gruben, one of the owners of E. Gruben’s Transport that passed away last year,” said Jacobson. “And one of our elders passed away this weekend, Jean Komiak, and we dedicate this win to her too.”
Watson Lake’s Kaska Wolf Pack took third with a 9-6 loss to the Warriors Sunday morning.
Storm rains down on Wolf Pack
The Champagne and Aishihik Storm out of Haines Junction is a young team, but is would seem their archrivals have already been determined.
Defeating Whitehorse’s Kaska Wolf Pack 6-5 in the ‘B’ division finals was payback, said Storm coach Gerald Brown.
The two teams met in the finals of Watson Lake’s Kiki tournament a month ago, with the Wolf Pack winning 5-4 after scoring with just seven seconds to play in the third.
In a real back-and-forth battle, the Storm eventually took a 6-3, third period lead only to watch it shrink as the Wolf Pack moved within one.
“They just pressured us and our defence started to fall apart,” said Brown. “But we picked ourselves up and pushed back. It was good after that.”
Racking up a hat trick and an assist for the Storm was Scott Horsey, while teammate Matt Horsey also had a multi-point game with two goals and two assists. Clint McCuaig also found the back of the net for the Storm.
Losing 6-5 against the Wolf Pack Saturday morning, Whitehorse’s Kwanlin Kanucks took third.
Arrows hit the target in oldtimers’
According to Whitehorse Arrows captain Rick Smith, it’s been a “long time” since him and his teammates took to the ice together.
“I just phoned them up, asked them if they wanted to play,” said Smith. “We played 10, 15 years ago in senior hockey and we used to play in this tournament together.”
Despite the extended hiatus of more than a decade, the Arrows won the oldtimer division, defeating the Carmacks Eagle Rock Flyers 2-1 in the finals.
In the low-scoring finals, the Eagles were the first to draw blood with Charles Broadhagen scoring at the end of the first.
However, Arrows Randy Merkel and Chuck Tobin combined goals in the second for the lead and kept the net puck-free for the third. Doug Cook assisted both goals.
“Our final game was probably the toughest,” said Smith. “It was pretty good hockey.”
The OT’r Warriors from Ross River finished in third after losing to the Eagles 9-2 Saturday morning.
Inuvik Shockers win Jamboree
If their success was completely unexpected, then they have the right name.
The Inuvik Shockers defeated the Carmacks Wild 5-2 Sunday to take the Jamboree division.
Scoring a pair of goals for the Shockers was B.J. Voudrach, while teammates Corey Baetz, Geo Pascal and James Day Jr. each produced one. Pascal also put up an assist.
The Dawson City Wolf Pack finished third after losing 4-3 to the Wild in the semis.
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