Rangers returned to Whitehorse with Klondike gold this week.
The T.A. Firth Rangers went undefeated in five games to win a rec hockey tourney in Dawson City on Jan. 29.
The 11th annual event, formerly called the Dawson City Men’s Hockey Tournament, was renamed Victor Henry Cup this year.
“Victor is an elder in town. I’ve been here seven years in town and he never misses a hockey game,” said tournament organizer Paul Robitaille. “A lot of the time he’s the only person in the stands. So we named our trophy after Victor. He drops the (ceremonial) puck before the game and has been doing that for five years.”
The Rangers, who were playing the tournament for their first time, claimed the top spot with a 4-2 win over the Cinderwood Bobcats in the final.
Both teams, with the exception of a player or two, play in the Whitehorse Rec Hockey League.
“It was our first time going to Dawson, so we were pretty excited to head up there,” said Rangers captain Currie Dixon. “Paul Robitaille, who organizes it, did a fantastic job and we all had a blast. They open up (Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall) for the weekend, so that’s the first time Gertie’s had been open for months. So I don’t think it was just us who were excited about it, the people of Dawson were pretty excited about it.”
The Rangers scored three goals in the third to come back from down 2-1. Leading the way was Clint Teichroeb with two goals, including the game winner, bookended by goals from Travis Rivest and Kane Dawe. Ryan Gleason had three assists, Jon Rudolph two, plus singles from Tanner Kulych, Dixon, and Simon Nugent had others.
“We only had nine skaters, so we were pretty short, but we had some fantastic defence — Simon Nugent and big Jon Rudolph are two guys who were the pillars of our back end,” said Dixon. “We had some really good performances from some of our forwards as well. Darcy Carlick was our MVP; he scored some huge goals for us over the weekend.”
Some of those names might sound familiar. Dawe, Rudolph, Nugent — and goalie Brian Power — are all members of the Whitehorse Huskies men’s senior AA team.
Putting the Bobcats on the board in the final was Spencer Bergen with both goals, one assisted by Don Russell.
“It was definitely a game of inches. There were a lot of plays that could have gone the other way,” said Dixon.
This year saw a tournament record of nine teams take to the ice with ones from Tuktyuktuk and Inuvik, N.W.T., three from Whitehorse, one from Haines Junction, one from Pelly Crossing and two home teams from Dawson.
The Tuk and Inuvik teams, which both had players from two-time defending champ Aklavik Outlaws, both lost in the semifinals.
“The thing about a tournament in Dawson is though sometimes you have the most skill, you might not be able to bounce back from a good night out on the town as well as other teams,” said Robitaille. “I think Dawson took a toll on some of the guys from way up north. They had an off game.”
Not only did the tournament have its biggest field and a new name, it was the first year the tournament was played on Dawson’s new artificial ice system installed at the Art and Margaret Fry Recreation Centre at the start of the season.
“The ice was fantastic,” said Robitaille. “Most of the guys were saying it was in great shape, they loved it. As far as an organizer goes, a big kudos goes to the city for making sure the ice was in good shape.”
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