Head coach Scott Smith gives instructions to some of the Lead Dawgs during a practice. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Lead Dawgs on a quest for gold at World Championships

“So what’s going to be a success? Ideally we’d like to come home with some hardware”

With the 2018 Broomball World Championships set to start Oct. 30, the Yukon Lead Dawgs are ready to compete again on the grandest stage.

A group of 16 players, plus coaching staff and supporters, are headed to Minneapolis to compete in the mixed division against nine other teams from Canada, the United States, Australia and Japan.

Head coach Scott Smith said the team making the trip is composed of players on a handful of Whitehorse league teams.

“It’s a mix and match,” said Smith. “We’re trying for a competitive team. That said, this group has not played very much together. It’s a number of players from different teams that are able to go but also have the competitive spirit.”

This isn’t the first time the Yukon has sent a team to the World Championships — the Lead Dawgs won bronze in Innsbruck, Austria in 2010 — but this year’s team is younger than previous Worlds teams.

“It’s a pretty positive group,” said Smith. “There is quite a bit of youth in this team, whereas in other years it has been more experienced players, … but we do think we can be competitive there.”

One of the obstacles the Lead Dawgs will have to overcome quickly is the lack of familiarity between players, but Smith said that hasn’t tempered the mentality of the team.

“A lot of the teams that we meet have been playing competitive ball for years together,” said Smith. “So what’s going to be a success? Ideally we’d like to come home with some hardware.”

Preparations for the World Championships began more than a year ago at last season’s opening tournament in Whitehorse with a simple sign up sheet.

“The tournament drive was started there by interest,” said Smith. “There was enough interest to carry on, because … it takes quite a bit to organize a bunch of adults that just want to play broomball.”

Once Smith and his two managers knew the interest was there, preparations started on and off the ice.

“It’s not cheap to fly to Minnesota and get a week of hotel rooms,” said Smith. “So it’s not just a ‘I guess we’ll go to this’ thing.”

The team has been prepping all summer, holding twice-a-month sessions at their outdoor facility in Takhini and booking a handful of ice sessions at the Canada Games Centre.

“You’ve got to get used to playing on ice,” said Smith. “The timing is so much different on concrete.”

Originally, the roster was set to be somewhere between the minimum, 16, and the maximum, 21, but the number is now down to 16.

“We had a couple people drop for different reasons,” said Smith. “We tried to keep a fitness, competitive-type component, so there are different elements to that.”

The key was to find a group of players that was both competitive and sportsmanlike.

“We’re looking forward to it, everybody is pumped.”

The tournament gets underway for the Lead Dawgs on Oct. 30 with a match against Team Canada-Broomshak in the morning, followed by a match against the Australia Gold Dingoes.

Day two of the tournament is another busy one for the Yukoners, first playing the Canadian team Alkatchetario Rage and then the American team Regal Beagles.

The final round-robin game for the Lead Dawgs is Nov. 1 against the Japan Ice Ducks.

Quarter-finals and semifinals are Nov. 2 and the medal games are Nov. 3.

All told, the tournament includes 46 teams from seven countries competing in four divisions — men’s, women’s, mixed and masters.

The broomball season here in the Yukon kicks off with the Bob Park Icebreaker Tournament from Nov. 22 to 24.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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