It was fourth time the charm for an Old Crow team at the 40th annual Yukon Native Hockey Tournament.
After losing in the final the last three years, the North Yukon Eagles captured their first jamboree division championship at the at the Canada Games Centre on March 19.
The Eagles took the title with a 4-3 overtime win over Carcross’ Inland Tlingit Warriors in the final.
The Eagles team, which is half from Old Crow with other players from Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik and Aklavik, in the N.W.T., had lost 5-2 to the Warriors earlier in the tournament.
“We came out a little bit scrambly. You bring people from all these different communities and put them together — some of them know each other. That’s why we kept the Tuk guys together and some of the Old Crow guys together,” said Eagles head coach Greg Charlie. “It took us a while to find the chemistry between the guys and once we had a better idea we kept the same game plan. Some players didn’t play as much as other players, but we win as a team and lose as a team, and I’m glad the boys came back and did a fantastic job coming together.”
Captain Johnny Elias, who plays major midget AAA in B.C., got the game-winner a minute into overtime, snapping a wrister from 10 feet out just under the crossbar. Elias was named the division’s MVP.
Jeremy Keevik, Nathan Kuptana and Luke Steen — the division’s high scorer — also scored for the Eagles in the final.
Eagles goalie Mike Billy was named best goalie and teammate Mathew Cooper best defence.
Zoe Leas, Geordan Huebschwerlen and Neil Adams scored for the Inland Tlingit Warriors, who won the jamoree (midget-age) division in 2015.
The Eagles advanced to the final with a 5-0 win over third place’s Nelson Gongshow from B.C.
Nannock Warriors pick up first old-timer title
Whitehorse’s Nannock Warriors decided to try a different pace of hockey at this year’s tournament.
The former A division champs went undefeated in four straight games to claim their first old-timer division title, Sunday at Takhini Arena.
The Warriors, who made the A division final in 2014, took the title with a 12-6 win over the Champagne Aishihik Bruins from Haines Junction.
“We’re not new. We’ve been in the tournament since 1987 (or) ’88, so we’ve been there a while,” said Warriors captain Derek Johnstone. “It’s been harder and harder to keep up in the A division so this year we decided to put our old team back together and just go into old-timers, rather than play in the A division.
“We’ll see, next year we might try to go back to the A.”
The Warriors finished the first period up 2-1 before turning scoring five goals in each of the next two frames.
Johnstone, who was named division MVP, logged one goal and three assists in the final. Cousin Kevin Jonstone had a five-point game with a hat trick. Lance Brown, who notched a goal and two assists in the final, was the division’s top scorer.
Bruins’ Scott Hume was named best defence and teammate Daniel Green best goalie.
The Whitehorse Arrows took third with a 7-4 semifinal loss to the Bruins. Arrows’ Daryl Sturko was named the tournament’s most inspirational player.
EGT Nanooks make it four straight in A division
Four decades of native hockey in Whitehorse coincided with four straight titles for the EGT Nanooks from Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.
The Nanooks won the A division a fourth year in a row with a 7-5 win over the Champagne Aishihik Storm from Haines Junction in the final at Takhini Arena.
“We plan for this all year,” said Nanooks head coach Jackie Jacobson. “We’ve got our core group of guys from back home in Tuk and we just pull everything together.
“We’re feeling pretty good — we won three games in a row.”
The Nanooks, who also beat the Storm in last year’s final, sealed the deal with an empty-netter from Jonas Thomson — his fourth goal of the game. Teammate Jamie Marshall had two goals. Captain Erwin Elias, who only had one assist in the final, still managed to take the trophy for the division’s top scorer.
Storm’s Kevin Petovello, who is a member of the Whitehorse Huskies, knocked in three goals and had an assist.
The Storm reached the final with a 6-3 win over Pelly Crossing’s Selkirk Bears in the semifinal.
Sabres cut through the competition in B division
LJ’s Sabres from Ft. McPherson might want to try the A division next year.
The team won four straight games, outscoring the competition 31-13, to win the B division on Sunday.
The Sabres, who took silver last year, took the title with a 10-4 win over the KDFN Front Street Clothing Warriors of Whitehorse in the final at Takhini Arena.
Sabres’ Wilson Dumais had a natural hat trick, posting four goals in total, in the final. He won the trophies for MVP and top scorer in the division. Teammate Brett Roulston had a five-point game with two goals in the final.
N.W.T.’s Deline Braves took third.
Tahltan Selects win C and youth divisions
Two teams from the Tahltan Nation in northern B.C. picked up division wins on Sunday.
The Tahltan Selects won in C division and the Jr. Tahltan Selects won the youth division for the second year in a row.
The senior Selects took the title with an 8-3 win over the Iskut Wolverines, also of B.C., in the final. Selects’ Chris Vance scored three straight goals, including the game-winner, in the final. He picked up the division’s top scorer trophy.
The junior Selects claimed the youth division with a 10-4 win over the Fort Nelson Gongshow in the final. Selects’ Braiden Parker had a hat trick while teammates Joey Schultz and Lazarus Constant each had two.
Pelly Crossing’s Selkirk Bears third took third in the C division and the Whitehorse Warriors — with division high scorer Samuel Skinner — placed third in the youth division.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com