You might call it a family effort.
Heading into the final game of the season, Coyne’s captain Chris Saunders was joined on the bench by his wife Julie and sons Justin and Stefan.
“We’ve got a couple of the youngest players in the league – they’re both 20-year-olds, and they kind of show it playing against all us 30- and 40-year-olds,” said Chris Saunders, referring to his sons.
“You can tell the difference between our two lines. We have a kid line and an old line.
“The kids generated a lot of offence, kept it in their zone. Us old guys just play defence and hope for little breakouts once in a while.”
Competing for the Kopper King Cup in the final of the Yukon Broomball Association’s playoffs, the defending champion team, Coyne, held an early two-goal lead until the end to defeat Yukon News 2-0 Saturday at the Takhini broomball rink.
“Disappointment, but I’m still proud of the way we played in the playoffs,” said Yukon News’ Chris Nash, who ended the regular season third for points, goals and assists. “We played our hardest and that’s all you can do.”
Both of Coyne’s goals came on the same power play after the News’ Blayne Epp received a major for “submarining” Coyne’s Justin Saunders with five minutes left in the first.
“I don’t agree with the call, obviously,” said Nash. “That was the difference in the game. There was that one penalty and they were able to capitalize on it. Calls just didn’t seem to go our way today.”
“Any time you drop to your knees and slide and take a player out, it’s considered a dangerous play,” said Chris Saunders, describing the hit. “Usually it’s just a minor penalty, but if it’s exceedingly dangerous, then they can bump it up to a major.”
Justin, who ended the regular season first in points and assists, squirmed on the ice in visible pain but soon returned to the game. According to his dad, submarining calls can often be left to the ref’s discretion.
“Justin runs around like Bambi so he crashes into the boards a lot,“he said. “So it’s hard to tell whose fault it is half the time.”
The game-winner came on a 3-on-2 rush when Stephan Saunders lifted the ball over a News defenceman, reaching Rob Legare in front.
The News, who finished the regular season in second behind the Roadhouse, had an uphill battle to advance to the finals, playing four games in five days. In another two-goal game, the News fell to Coyne on Thursday in their previous encounter, losing 3-1.
“We’re a little tired and we’ve got a couple injuries,” said Nash. “But we’re really proud of how we played all year.”
Coyne’s second goal came from a backhander by John Tom Tom, assisted by his brother James.
“We got lucky with a couple powerplay goals,” said Chris Saunders. “That made the difference.”
Experience in international broomball may have given Coyne a boost, with the majority of players having competed on the two teams the Yukon sent to the World Broomball Championships in Vancouver in November.
“Two of our players didn’t go down,” said Chris Saunders. “But everybody that played today did go down except for Sukhi Sidhu.”
As good as their offence was, Coyne’s goalie Tim MacIntosh kept the News’ donut on the board, making a bevy of spectacular saves, including a kick-save immediately followed by a glove-save in the final minute of the first period.
“Because he plays so well, he allows us to play a little more aggressively and force the other team to cough it up and turn it over,” said Chris Saunders. “Plus, he likes to play as a mobile goalie – he’s basically a third defenceman for the most part.
“He’s a part-time goalie, part-time defenceman.”
MacIntosh is so treasured in net, when he joined the coed team at the World Broomball Championships he was the only male goalie at the tournament. MacIntosh also had a shutout Wednesday in an 8-0 blowout against Flippers.
In accordance with the modified double-elimination draw, both teams advanced to the finals with wins over Flippers.
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