Yukon girls routed, but resilient

 goaltender is the lynchpin of any hockey team. It’s a tough job — mostly thankless and without glory.

 goaltender is the lynchpin of any hockey team.

It’s a tough job — mostly thankless and without glory.

A goalie can stop dozens of shots on net, but the only thing recorded in the history books is the one shot that got by.

Yukon’s Megan Moore saved 90 shots during Tuesday night’s game.

But she started out on the ice a little shaky.

“Primarily, I was very happy with the play — it was the goaltending I had an issue with,” said team coach Randy Merkel after the game.

“We have to have saves and we have to have the goaltender giving us a chance to succeed.

“I think Megan came out very nervous,” he added.

The team’s coach pulled the 16-year-old player after she let in six goals in the first period.

“I knew she could do it; I was confident in her but I had to pull her out,” he explained.

“She went out in the hall and she beat herself up a little bit and she dealt with it,” he said.

“There were some jitters in the first period; there was a lot of pressure and going into the second period was a little better — I was in the zone and more ready for it,” Moore said after the game.

After working off the first-period butterflies, Moore gave a performance worthy of the NHL.

She allowed just one goal in the second, and four slipped by her in the third.

She was fearless deflecting shots with her hands, her shins and her gut.

Moore stopped slapshots from the blue-line and dove on lazy shots from inside the crease.

Along with four other players on the Yukon team, Moore lives in Haines Junction.

The players have driven into Whitehorse five days a week for practices over the past year.

“Twenty hours a week in the vehicle,” said Moore with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Faro player Selena Kaytor has made an even greater commitment to the team. She moved to Whitehorse to train.

“I’m on a home-schooling program where my teachers from Faro send stuff to me so if I do go home after the Games, I’ll be at the same level as my classmates,” said Kaytor, who started playing eight years ago.

“My first reaction was: ‘That’s a guy’s game,’ but I started playing and I didn’t want to come off the ice — now I’m in the Canada Games,” she added with a smile.

During Tuesday evening’s game, the Yukon women were still finding their feet, losing 14-0.

They fought hard and they lost.

They were outgunned, outplayed and outmanoeuvered by BC’s more experienced team.

“In the beginning I was a bit nervous; I tend to get like that when there are important games,” said Yukon forward Chantelle Rivest from Whitehorse.

The Yukoners looked tentative off the drop, and played defensively, backing up into the net rather than lunging toward the puck.

They lost control of the puck inside the blue line and BC’s Kathleen McDonald netted the team’s first goal a little more than two minutes into the first period.

The puck rarely made it past the red line, but when it did Yukon’s tenacious forward Jessica Trotter was often behind it.

“I’ve been working with a man from Haines Junction on my one-on-one skills and he’s taught me how to get the puck through the legs,” said Trotter.

“But I just couldn’t get it by them without getting knocked on my butt; it was good though, I learned from it and now I know what to do next time,” she said.

But just moving it out of the Yukon’s end seemed a big accomplishment for the newbie team.

In the third period, after a hard fight in front of Yukon’s net and a miraculous save from Moore, Yukon’s Shayla Roulston gave a cherry-picking BC player a push away from the net.

The shove landed Roulston in the penalty box for two minutes and elicited a chorus of “booing” from the boisterous crowd in the bleachers.

Having the hometown crowd behind them helped the girls excel, said coach Merkel.

“There were times that we could have scored in that game and I’m feeling confident that we’re going to be able to do that.”

After a nervous first game on Monday evening, where the team fell 19-0 to Saskatchewan, Merkel had a long meeting with the women to review plays and find ways to improve.

Despite the losses the coach is confident in his team’s ability to come out strong in its next game.

“This group of girls is very resilient; they’ve always found ways to rise to the occasion,” he added.

Team Yukon will take the ice again on Thursday. Its opponent has not yet been determined.

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