Two very tired teams played for gold on Wednesday.
On one bench was a team with just a couple subs; on the other bench was a team playing its fifth consecutive game. Both were in their seventh game of the day.
In the end, the Christ the King Wolverines – the team with just a couple subs – had enough left in the tank to take gold at the Whitehorse Elementary Hockey Tournament at the Canada Games Centre.
Could mustaches have made the difference?
“They all came together really nicely at the start of the day,” said Wolverines co-coach Jordan Stevens. “They all put on hockey-tape mustaches and called themselves the Mustachioes.”
The Wolverines took gold with a 2-1, come-from-behind win over the Elijah Smith Eagles with a pair of close-rang goals in the final.
It was the first time Christ the King won the championship. They went undefeated in all seven games.
“They all pretty much play together in the Whitehorse Minor Hockey League, so they are all familiar with each other and they pulled together terrifically under pressure,” said Wolverines co-coach Sherri Hennings. “They know how to share out there, they were working together as a team really well.”
“It’s awesome, our school has never won it before,” said Wolverines’ Brandon Petelski. “It’s great.”
Down by a goal, Wolverines’ Adam Hennings knocked in a short one from the side of the net to tie the game 1-1 with just over seven minutes left.
With 50 seconds left on the clock Josh Karney took a shot from the point and teammate Logan McKay whacked in the rebound from the side of the crease.
The Elijah Smith Eagles took the lead 10 minutes in when Saul Gale outpaced two defenders and sniped a backhand over the glove of Wolverines goalie Quinn Howard.
Howard had two shutouts on the day and never let in more than one goal in any game.
He made a big kick-save with five minutes left in the final to keep the score even.
“He was solid all day,” said Stevens. “He loves to play and you can tell he has lots of practice. The kids played with confidence in front of him – they knew he was going to be good back there.
“He stepped up every time we needed it.”
The Eagles had played five back-to-back by the end of the final. They lost their first two games and had to take the backdoor into the final.
“We could see our kids getting some pretty tired legs, but they played hard,” said Eagles coach Tanya Hope.
“They were Grade 7 down to 4, we had girls and boys, we had two newbies – new to skating – on the team, and we just tried to have them out, have fun. (Elijah Smith) had two teams and we tried to split them evenly and let them come out and have some fun.”
The Whitehorse Elementary Wolves captured the bronze with a 4-0 win over Golden Horn Glaciers.
Wolves goalie Griffin Bisson got the shutout while teammates Kyron Crosby, Maddie Nicholson, Maley McConnell and Keegan Bevilacqua each scored.
Wednesday marked the first time Golden Horn had reached the medal round of the tournament.
“Usually we’re eliminated by lunch time,” said Glaciers coach Robin Fairburn.
“We’re a small community school, so we always field a team from Grade 4 to 7, so it’s a bigger umbrella of kids than many of the bigger schools that have older students.
“Everybody was excited, no one was allowed to cry if they lost, and pizza and treats for everyone. Everyone is going home happy.”
The ninth annual elementary championship saw 11 Whitehorse schools and Teslin represented on 10 teams with about 130 players competing.
“We had another coach come over say we were one of the most sportsman-like teams he’s ever play,ed” added Stevens. “So that was really nice to hear about the kids.
“It was all them; we really didn’t have to coach them. We just helped to get them in order and get them out there, and they knew what to do.”
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