If part of the intention behind the Summit Summer Hockey League is to provide the Yukon’s elite players with ice-time and game experience during the summer, judging by the names on the scoresheets, it’s hitting the target.
The league wrapped up with EBA Engineering defeating Cinderwood 9-5 in the finals Tuesday at the Canada Games Centre.
Aside from the bevy of players from the Mustangs, Whitehorse’s rep teams, both of the finalist teams had on board some of the best players the territory has to offer.
“These guys are trying to get back in shape – and there’s a bunch on the other team,” said Cinderwood’s Kirk Gale, who played on the Whitehorse Huskies AAA men’s team last season. “That’s what it’s all about – that’s what summer hockey is for: to keep legs nimble and your hands going. It’s for them.”
Strapping on the skates for EBA was junior A player Alex McDougall who played for the Powell River Kings this past season, helping the team reach the BC league finals. Also on the team was Joe Densmore, who played a part in the Peninsula Panthers reaching the finals of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League where they lost to the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
Putting sticks on the ice for Cinderwood were youngsters Tyson and Jaxon Glass, both heading to elite camps this year. Also on the roster was Lawrence Brennan, who played for the Creston Valley Thundercats, a BC Junior B team. Cinderwood also had Matthew McCarthy and Brayden Kulych, both heading to Fort St. John teams in the fall.
Absent from the Cinderwood bench were Derek Johnstone, captain of the Whitehorse Huskies, and Ted Stephens, who played for the Muncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. In May, Stephens became the first Yukon-born player to compete for the Memorial Cup with the Wildcats.
“Ted is sick and Derek is out of town. That being said, it’s a big loss for us,” said Gale.
Cinderwood, who took a 1-0 lead early on in the game with a goal from Brennan, had difficulty establishing momentum in the game. Four times after Cinderwood scored, EBA aswered back within the following minute.
“We tried to get back into it, but for whatever reason we couldn’t get the bounces and they kept coming at us in waves,” said Gale. “They certainly deserve to win – there’s no doubt about that.”
The dark horse of the playoffs, EBA actually finished the regular season dead last, “by quite a bit,” said assistant captain Jeff Pike. “We only won one game all season.
“I don’t really know what happened. We just started playing like a team. We started to gel a little, got some lines together and just started to click – started putting pucks in the net.”
Although Cinderwood took the decisive loss, the team’s players do have reason to hold their heads high. Unlike EBA, who took on a total of four players from other teams, Cinderwood reached the finals with just their original roster.
“The last game we had just six players show up, so we decided to take on a couple more because there was room,” said Pike.
Helping produce the bulk of EBA’s points were Lowell Johnston and Nicholas Swizdaryk, each with two goals and two assists, and Spencer Tomlin and Klyes Lowes, both with a goal and two assists.
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