Capital city hockey teams collided at the first annual Air North Hockey Challenge over the weekend in Whitehorse.
Three Yellowknife Wolfpack rep teams visited Whitehorse to play Mustangs club teams while one Mustangs squad travelled to Yellowknife to play the Wolfpack.
It could be the start of a beautiful friendship – and rivalry – between the Whitehorse and Yellowknife minor hockey associations.
It all started when Air North announced direct flights between Whitehorse and Yellowknife this past November.
“We started calling each other as soon as the flights were announced,” said Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association president Carl Burgess. “All the hockey heads saw the new opportunity and almost immediately Air North, the Yellowknife and Whitehorse minor hockey (associations) started talking about how to make this regular, even before we had this one planned.
“We’re already going through options of what it might look like next year. This one seems to be a success. Lots of smiles and great competition.”
“The associations are very alike in that it’s hard to find competition close by, so travelling is definitely part of it,” said Peewee Wolfpack coach Greg Works. “Talking to the people over here, the associations are almost identical.”
The similarities continue on the ice. Between the eight teams – four from Whitehorse, four from Yellowknife – there were 17 games played.
The Wolfpack won nine and the Mustangs eight.
The Norcope Bantam Mustangs produced four wins in five games against the Wolfpack in Yellowknife.
The Bantam Mustangs won 6-1, 3-2, 6-2 and 6-4. Their only loss was 4-3 in a shootout in the second of three games on Saturday.
The Female Mustangs came out on top in three out of four games. After suffering a 5-4 loss to start the series, Whitehorse bounced back with three straight wins.
“I liked having them over here, they’re a nice team, fun to play with,” said Female Mustangs captain Chyanne Spenner.
After the loss, “We were communicating more and our passes were more accurate. We got more shots.”
The Female Mustangs won 4-2, 5-2 and 7-2 to end the series on Saturday.
“I think (the 7-2 win) really stood out because we were talking a lot and we were passing really well,” said Spenner.
The Midget A Mustangs were held to one win in the four-game series. They lost 6-1 and won 4-2 before 6-3 and 7-0 losses.
The Peewee A Mustangs went winless over the weekend against the Peewee Wolfpack, losing 5-1, 9-3, 4-0 and 6-0.
The Peewee Wolfpack won a tournament in Phoenix, Arizona, two weeks ago and another in Banff, Alta., at the start of the season.
“The weekend was great, the hockey was good, the hospitality was super and it’s been a great experience for our kids,” said Works. “We’ve never billeted with families before. Usually when we travel we stay in hotels. It was a good experience for them, they seemed really excited to be staying in people’s houses.
“The weekend couldn’t have been better. It was really good.”
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