Before journeying to Iceland this month, Dawson City players hadn’t seen ice-time since last season.
They play on natural ice in the Klondike town and when spring finally melts the ice, skating is done until next freeze-up.
So when two Dawson teams took to the ice at the Iceland International Ice Hockey Cup a couple weeks ago in Reykjavik, it took a little time to get back in game-shape.
“Our goal was actually to score one goal because none of us had been on the ice since March. We all went over there without having laced up in six months.” said Klondike Ice Queens “de facto” captain Janice Cliff.
“Our first period was a disaster. They scored four quick goals on us in the first period, but by the second period we had all calmed down, got used to the Olympic-size ice, which we were also not used to skating on.”
Not only did the Ice Queens women’s team get goals, they got a win with a 3-2 win over a northern Icelandic squad.
“We were extremely ecstatic about one win over an international team,” said Cliff.
The men’s team, the Dawson City Nuggets, took wins and a medal. The Nuggets won three out of four games, making the final and taking silver.
Win or lose, the whole thing was a great experience, said Nuggets captain Steve Laszlo.
“It was more about the cultural exchange experience and going to another country like Iceland,” said Laszlo.
“It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, but now we have a taste for it, so we’re thinking what’s next, how do we do this again? We all agreed it was a fun time … Who knows what’s down the road.”
The Nuggets won their first three games over Icelandic teams with goalie Daniel Naef notching two shutouts. Dawson’s Charlie Dagostin, Ryan Paolini, Greg Paolini, Nathan Dewell, Owen Mackinnon, Neil Loveless, Dale Bulmer, Steve Laszlo and Troy Suzuki posted goals along the way.
Go figure, it took another Canadian team to stop their run. The Nuggest fell 3-2 to the Muskoka 72s from Ontario in the final. Frank Kormendy and Will Fellers scored for Dawson.
“The last game we played another Canadian team and came up one goal short,” said Laszlo.
“We got one back late (making it 3-2) and we threw everything we had at them including the kitchen sink but couldn’t tie it up.”
Klondike Ice Queens opened with a 5-0 loss to a team from Finalnd. They then got their 3-2 win over an Iceland team with goals from Joanne Anderson, Katie Fraser second and Taylor Bradley with the game-winner.
In another Canada v. Canada match-up, the Ice Queens lost 3-2 to the Beaver Dames from Toronto. Bradley and Anderson, who was named team MVP, scored.
The Ice Queens were blown out by another Toronto team in their fourth game.
“Exhaustion, the search for the perfect hot dog and too many good dance clubs took their toll on the Ice Queens,” said Cliff.
The Ice Queens managed to keep two of their games close despite the fact the team’s goalie, Heidi Bliedung, was playing with a torn ACL.
“She had all three ligaments torn in her knee, but she still managed to get her skates on and do the best she could,” said Cliff.
Both Dawson team were made up of players ranging from their early 20s to mid 50s.
In addition to the 15 men and 13 women, about 20 Dawson supporters made the trip and didn’t miss a game.
“It just goes to show how supportive Dawson is to crazy ideas,” said Cliff. “We always had 20 fans in the bleachers and I feel that’s where we showed all the other teams up – in spirit.”
“It was the women’s hockey in Dawson that really got the ball rolling for this one. The guys just tagged along,” she added.
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