Three straight games looked to be taking their toll on Whitehorse Black in the final of the Yukon Atom Hockey Championships in Haines Junction on Sunday.
The team looked dead on their feet as the Juneau Capitals took a 3-0 lead and were poised to take the title home to Alaska.
Whitehorse Black was sluggish for more than the first half of the final. It turns out they had plenty more gas in the tank.
Black erased Juneau’s three-goal lead before winning the final 5-4 in a shoot-out.
“That’s nothing but heart. They played a lot of hockey this weekend,” said Black head coach Mark Daniels. “The last three (games) were three in a row and that’s amazing.”
Black simply needed a spark to start their fire in the final.
Down 3-0 with six minutes left in the second period, Black’s Landon Marsh roofed a backhander into the Capitals’ net to break the ice.
Within three minutes teammate Kaelen Lewi scored and Marsh scored a second.
Black took the lead late in the third on a goal from Cole McInroy, assisted by Marsh.
“He’s one of our top goal-scorers. He’s a real hard worker,” said Daniels of Marsh. “He leads our team and he’s a heck of a hockey player.”
The Capitals, who arrived in the final undefeated, tied the game 31 seconds later.
After a fruitless overtime, the battle moved to a shoot-out and tensions rose even higher.
After each team sent five shooters in for the shoot-out, not a single puck was found the back of the net.
It took another two from each time, in a sudden death situation, to end the game.
Black’s Zane Daniels finally got the game-winner, beating the sprawled Juneau goalkeep.
Black goalie Naiose Dempsey then shut-down a Capitals player to secure the win.
“Absolutely great goaltending,” said Mark. “It was a goaltending war out there today.”
Zane, who also picked up an assist in the game, was the only player out of 14 to score in the shoot-out.
“I was thinking, if they don’t score, they owe it all to me,” joked Zane, referring to Juneau’s final shooter.
Zane had the plan, “To go one way, the other way, and shoot,” he said.
Not only was the final Black’s third consecutive game, it was the team’s fourth on the day. Their first game of the day, against Whitehorse White, also went to overtime. White, which finished fourth, won the overtime 6-5 in Black’s only loss of the weekend.
“They had endurance. They played three games in a row, so hats off to them,” said Capitals head coach Steve Baseden. “Four hockey games in one day – holy cow.”
After beating Whitehorse Red 2-1, Whitehorse Black advanced to the final in a 5-2 win over Whitehorse Yellow.
Lewis had a hat trick and an assist in the game.
Max Tom and Ashton Underhill scored for Yellow, who took the bronze with the loss.
“They’re a real good bunch of boys and girls,” said Yellow head coach Doug Petriw. “They’r e always working hard. They’re a skating team.
“Save for a couple bounces, we could have beaten any team here. We had lots of real good games against everybody.”
Whitehorse Red placed fifth in the tournament and the hosting Haines Junction team placed sixth.
“We have a great team – a young team, a small team,” said Mark. “But they play as a team. It’s all heart, it’s all hustle.
“I have two second-year players. So they’re a bunch of young kids who gel well and play well together.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org