Game-winning goals rarely happen in the first 30 seconds of a broomball game — or any game for that matter.
But, that’s exactly what happened Saturday as the Whitehorse Dental Donkeys (4-0-2) took the Bob Park Ice Breaker Memorial tournament to kick off the broomball season.
Right winger Chris Nash scored just 25 seconds into the game to give his team the game’s only goal as the Donkeys went on to a 1-0 win over Capital Towing (3-1-2) in the finals Saturday morning at Takhini Arena.
“This tournament means a lot to not only the Roadhouse, but to all of us,” said Nash. “We all knew Bob (Park) very well. My first year in the league I played with him and he was a great guy.”
The tournament’s namesake, a former owner of the Roadhouse Inn and a sports enthusiast, died from pancreatic cancer in August of 2006. Park’s name is also featured in a cancer fundraising golf tournament held each summer at Mountain View Golf Club.
Nash intercepted a pass from the Capitals’ goaltender, moved in and found the bottom left corner from three metres out to score the lone goal.
“There was no real strategy (going into the game),” said Nash. “Just limit our mistakes and capitalize on any chances we can get. We happened to capitalize on that one and got lucky. It was a close game from start to finish and we were lucky to win it.”
The Donkeys and Capital had just played each other the previous night to cap the round-robin part of the tournament. But with the two teams far out of reach in the standings, the game was rather inconsequential, with both sides knowing they would be playing in the finals.
The Donkeys scored with just 20 seconds left to tie the earlier game 2-2, which was the final score.
“We knew that we’d be playing in the finals, so it was kind of a warm-up game for us,” said Nash.
As was the case with many teams, Capital Towing had problems filling their bench, which put the players’ stamina to the test.
“We were down to just two lines on our team, so it was pretty demanding,” said Capital Towing’s centre, Francois Lafortune. “You got to run for the whole game — you don’t have much time to sit on the bench.”
The tournament win is a first for the Donkeys, having lost to the Roadhouse the previous two years. Capital Towing also had a better run — they never made the finals before.
“We’re usually in the middle of the pack — in the upper half, depending who shows up for the team,” said Lafortune. “Some games you get lots of players, other games you’re short. That can influence the outcome of the game.”
Team Coyne took a third-place finish at the tournament, beating the defending champs, the Roadhouse, 3-2 Saturday morning before the finals.
Because both teams lacked players, each had only one sub to rely on.
“The third-place spot is generally not a good motivator to get people out,” said Coyne captain Chris Saunders, who is also the president of the Yukon Broomball Association.
“It wasn’t as exciting as the finals.”
Yukon to send teams to international tournament
For the first time, the Yukon will send teams to an international broomball tournament held in Burnaby, BC, in November.
The two teams making their way to the 2008 World Broomball Championships will be a mixed team to compete in the coed division and a men’s 40-and-over team.
“Lots of the players playing this weekend will be on that team,” said Lafortune, who will be playing on the men’s team. “We picked all the old players from all the teams.”
“We got things organized enough to get it done (this year),” said Lafortune, noting the Yukon’s failure to enter past international tournaments. “This year … because it’s just outside of Vancouver, it’s a good chance to go. It’s fairly cheap to go.”
The championships were awarded to Burnaby last week by the International Federation of Broomball Associations. They will take place November 3 to 8.
Local broomballers hope participating in an international competition will help boost the sport in the Yukon.
“It’s a great opportunity to promote the sport for us,” said Yukon Broomball Association director Scott Smith. “It’s feasible because it’s on the West Coast, so it’s close. Lots of times it’s in Europe and Australia — right around the world.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun.”