PRINCE GEORGE, B.C.
Before the start of the game, Yukon fans in the stands were optimistic. They knew Yukon’s male hockey team had potential. They saw 14 minutes of that potential before things unraveled for the team.
Yukon lost 13-0 to P.E.I. to start their week at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George on Sunday.
“A bad break, a tough bounce, and they got a shorthanded goal and the boys just didn’t recover,” said Yukon head coach Martin Lawrie. “They are a big, strong team, they skate well, but I think we weren’t mentally ready – weren’t prepared. They didn’t react well to that goal. From there we showed flashes of pushing back, but ultimately we couldn’t sustain anything. They got the puck deep and started working our defence.”
P.E.I. ran off with the game following a shorthanded goal against Yukon on their second power play of the game.
An attempt to clear the puck from their end turned into a bit of a breakaway for P.E.I.’s Evan Gallent, who buried it with 6:15 left in the period.
P.E.I. then scored three more in two minutes and nine seconds in the final minutes of the period to reach 4-0 by the first buzzer. They then scored three in the second period and six in the third. Yukon goalie Ethan
Vanderkley stopped 49 of 62 shots piled on net.
“I don’t think it’s conditioning, I think guys were getting stuck on the ice,” said Lawrie. “They were managing to change the lines while they had the puck in deep. So they were staying fresh and we were having guys stuck on the ice for 90 seconds, 120 seconds.
“You’re gassing out by being on too long.”
Expectations are still high for the Yukon team, but maybe not as high as before Sunday’s game. Thirteen of its players are from the Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs rep squad, a Tier 3 team that has notched numerous wins over Tier 1 teams this season, and seven have been playing high-level hockey outside of Yukon this season.
Team Yukon will next play Newfoundland on Monday and Northwest Territories on Tuesday to finish their pool’s round robin. Yukon must finish in the top two of their four-team pool to stay in contention for a medal.
“It’s such a short tournament, you don’t have time to go back and hit the practice ice and go over a bunch of things,” said Lawrie. “We’ll put this one behind us.”
Yukon beat Newfoundland 2-1 at the 2011 Games in Halifax for the territory’s first-ever win over a province in Canada Games history.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org