A semifinal game between Yukon and Alaska whipped Takhini Arena into a frenzy in Arctic Winter Games midget hockey on Thursday.
Tied 1-1 with eight minutes left in regulation, Yukon was awarded a penalty shot that would eventually determine which team got a shot at gold on Saturday.
The Yukon’s Tyson Glass took the shot, sending the puck off one post, off the other and in. The Yukon squad would then hold on for a 2-1 win through eight of the longest minutes of hockey in their lives.
“It was crazy,” said Yukon head coach Jay Glass. “That was the most stressful game I’ve ever been involved with.
“It was probably the most emotional game I’ve ever seen and the fans were right into it. I don’t know if I can coach any more games like this. I just about had a heart attack.”
The penalty shot, called for Alaska covering the puck in the crease, was given three minutes after Alaska scored a power play goal to tie the game. Given the option of selecting any player who was on the ice at the time of the penalty, coach Glass left it to his team to decide.
“I didn’t know who to pick so I said guys, ‘Who should I pick?’” he said. “(Captain) Mike Hare said to pick Tyson. I went to Tyson and asked, ‘Can you do this?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’
“He looked nervous when he went in … I could hardly watch.”
Tyson Glass is currently tied for second in scoring in the tournament, with four goals and two assists. The Yukon took a 1-0 lead in the second period on a goal from Tyler Wiens, assisted by Hare.
The hometown team will be facing N.W.T. for the gold medal on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Takhini Arena.
N.W.T. advanced into the final with a 6-2 win over Nunavut in the other semifinal. N.W.T. is the only team to defeat Yukon at the Games, winning 4-2 on Monday.
“We’re just going to try to calm down, relax and go out and try to play our game,” said coach Glass. “If we do that, hopefully we can go out and get the goals – they’re a good team.
“Win or lose, I’m so proud of these guys right now.”
Yukon’s junior female and bantam male teams were not successful in their semifinal games.
Alaska shutout the Yukon’s junior females 6-0 in the semifinal at the Canada Games Centre on Thursday.
“Alaska had been getting stronger with every game – we noticed that,” said Yukon head coach Louis Bouchard. “Our game hasn’t been improving with every game like we want it to, but the girls did pick it up at the end of the second and third period. They were finally playing like they should have been playing in the third. Just too little too late, I guess.”
The Yukon female squad will face N.W.T. in the bronze medal game on Friday at 12:30 p.m. at Takhini Arena.
The Yukon opened the Games with a 2-2 tie against N.W.T. In the game, the Yukon heavily out shot the N.W.T. but couldn’t beat its goalie, Atikin Hehn, enough for the win.
“We have a tie against them in our first game and I feel like I should have won that handily,” said Bouchard.
The Yukon’s bantam male team was firmly sent into the bronze game with a 14-1 loss to Alberta North in Thursday’s semifinal. Nick Dobush scored the lone goal, assisted by Kole Comin.
The Yukon will be facing Team Alaska in Friday’s bronze game on Friday at 4:15 p.m. at the Canada Games Centre.
In their previous encounter this week, Alaska won 5-0. The Yukon bantams’ one win at the Games thus far was a 6-4 triumph over Nunavut on Monday in Game 2.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com