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Lead Dawgs get experience at World Broomball Championship

For the first time ever, the Yukon was represented at the World Broomball Championships held last week in Vancouver.

For the first time ever, the Yukon was represented at the World Broomball Championships held last week in Vancouver. Called the Yukon Brewing Lead Dawgs, the teams competed in a coed division and a men’s masters division (40 and over), a division previously not offered at the World Championships.

After three days of round-robin play, the coed teams were divided into two groups. Those in the top half of the teams went into the World Cup, while teams in the bottom half, such as the Lead Dawgs, were placed in the Challenge Cup, in which they finished in second place.

In their first playoff game Friday morning, taking on the home team Burnaby Buzz, Dawgs forward Justin Saunders scored on a breakaway in overtime to win the game 2-1.

“Justin Saunders made a few key goals throughout the tournament,” said Diane Stewart, who played defence on the coed team and helped manage the men’s team. “So he was one of the stars in terms of offence. And then our goalie, Tim Macintosh, was amazing throughout the tournament, keeping us in the game.

“You can see from the scores that we didn’t score a lot of goals and we didn’t have a lot of goals scored against us, and that was largely due to the defence and Tim.”

In the finals of Challenge Cup the Dawgs lost 3-0 to the Kitami IceDucks from Japan. The Dawgs had also lost to the IceDucks in the round-robin 2-0.

Down by a goal with a couple minutes to play, the Dawgs pulled their goalie to get an extra attacker on the ice, and the IceDucks picked up a pair of empty-netters.

The eastern Ontario team, the Wildcats, beat the Edmonton Extreme to win World Cup division.

Six teams, all Canadian, were entered in the men’s masters, which was the first time the division was offered in the championships.

After three days of play, the men’s team finished fifth in the round-robin and played the sixth place team, the Maxville Predetors from BC to start the playoffs, and lost 5-0.

The Dawgs had faced the Predetors the previous day to wrap up the round-robin, losing 2-0.

“The difference (between the two games) was basically that we were running on two full offensive lines — most teams had three or four offensive lines,” said Chris Ziegler, who coached both Lead Dawg teams. “We were just very short of players and I really think that was the difference. After playing five round-robin games, the guys had to go right into playing a playoff game right away — and it was an important game — and I think the guys were pretty tired….

“I think in the second half we lost some of our legs,” said Ziegler, speaking of the second game against the Predetors. “I think Maxville is a team that went to the Worlds before, so they’re an experienced team and their experience came though more than anything.”

The Dawgs finished the championships playing for a fifth-place finish in their pool, but were shutout again, losing 4-0 to the Golden Boys from eastern Ontario. The Dawgs had also played the Golden Boys in the round-robin, but won that encounter 1-0 on Wednesday.

The Golden Boys had a small 1-0 lead going into the final period of play, but then dramatically pulled away with three unanswered goals.

“Again, fatigue proved to be a factor,” said Ziegler.

Like the coed Dawgs, an effective presence in the goal crease helped carry the team.

“I had other coaches from other teams come up to me and say, ‘Your goaltending was just spectacular,’” said Ziegler. “Regardless of how we lost, we lost against very experienced teams, and our goalies kept us in for most of the games.”

Alfred Dougherty and Ryan Hannah played in net for the men’s Dawgs.

“They’re both starting goalies,” said Ziegler. “I really couldn’t make a decision between the two of them because the two of them played so well. It was just amazing some of saves they made.”

Quebec’s Lars Electronique, who beat the Dawgs by just 1-0 in the round-robin, took the top honours in the men’s masters field.

The next World Broomball Championships will be taking place in Innsbruck, Austria in two years, and Ziegler hopes that Yukon teams will build off the experience of playing in Vancouver.

“There’s already talk about sending at least two teams to Austria to play in two years,” said Ziegler. “We know what we have to do to prepare, we know what we have to do to (compete) at that level of play. And I don’t think we’re that far away from it, which really surprised a few people.”

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