Yukon hockey teams undefeated at Banff Cup

The day after the Whitehorse Huskies men’s team captured the Coy Cup, two Yukon women’s teams won divisions and were raising the Banff Cup.

Yukon hockey teams are sure hoisting a lot of cups these days.

The day after the Whitehorse Huskies men’s team captured the Coy Cup, two Yukon women’s teams won divisions and were raising the Banff Cup.

Yukon Gold won senior A and Team Yukon won senior B with undefeated runs at the tournament in Alberta on April 2.

“It was really good. A couple of the girls started talking, we wanted to put in a team in a division we had to fight to win,” said Yukon Gold captain Candice MacEachen. “In past years we’ve gone in divisions we’ve just dominated and it’s not as fun going if you don’t have the challenge. So this year we went in with a short bench, we only had 10 skaters for three of the games and only nine skaters for one, so we knew it was going to be a tough tournament.

“We all got along really well and just clicked early on and came out flying.”

Yukon Gold went undefeated against Calgary teams in four games with two ties.

They took the Cup with a 3-2 win over the Ice Hawks in the final. Teslin’s Adrianne Dewhurst and Whitehorse native Angela Burke, who is now living in Calgary, scored the first two goals for Yukon Gold. Ashtyn Sandulak got the game-winner.

“It was pretty spread out.… I think everyone had a couple points throughout the tournament,” said MacEachen.

Yukon Gold was put together for the tournament, with players from the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey League, other communities and featured a goalie from Saskatchewan.

They opened with a 3-3 tie against the Bullfrogs with goals from MacEachen, Dewhurst and Burke. Yukon Gold then won 3-0 over the Vegabonds with Burke, Dewhurst and Tshayla Nothstien finding the back of the net. They finished the round robin with a 1-1 tie against the Ice Hawks with Dewhurst logging the goal.

It was Yukon Gold’s first time at the Banff Cup.

“We usually try to send a team out to a women’s tournament at least once a year,” said MacEachen, who lives in Teslin. “The five years I’ve been in the Yukon I’ve gone to tournaments in Anchorage, Calgary, last year we went to Victoria and this year Banff. We won three out of the four of those.… We lost in the final when we went to Calgary two years ago.”

Team Yukon dominated in the senior B division. They outscored the competition 22-2 in three round robin games — at least according to the scoresheets. In one game the scorekeepers stopped keeping track because Yukon was so far ahead.

“We probably could have played in the A division, but we registered as a 35-plus team,” said Team Yukon captain Jessica Pumphrey. “I suspect they split it by age instead of skill, because we played teams that were in our age group but definitely not in our skill-set.

“You never know what you’re getting yourself into when you go down to these tournaments.”

Team Yukon capped their win streak with a 3-0 win over the Calgary Breakers in the final with goals from forwards Nikki Belanger, Danielle Hodgson and Stephanie Hedley. With the game-winner, Belanger was named Player of the Game.

Teammates Cheryl Rivest, Carolyn Relf and Pumphrey took the same award in the previous games.

Most of the players on Team Yukon won the senior B division at the Pacific Cup tournament last year in Victoria, B.C.

Team Yukon received help from a number of sponsors, like Hvactech Systems helping with rental vehicles and Jill Pollack & Co. buying new socks for the whole team, but one sponsor smoothed relations with other teams after Yukon trounced them on the ice.

“Yukon Brewing sent us down with a bunch of beer to hand out,” said Pumphrey. “It was pretty fantastic to be able to go into the other girls’ dressing rooms and hand off Yukon Brewing beers — and they were all so happy to get the beer.

“We were a little nervous. When you beat someone 7-0 and you go to the bar after for the big banquet Saturday night, you think … they might be mad at us.”

Team Yukon also had an unexpected end to their weekend. When Sportsnet sportscasters Ron MacLean and Tara Slone, who were in Whitehorse last year with the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour, found out a Yukon team was at the tournament, they gave them tickets for Sunday’s NHL game between the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks.

“We had a wonderful weekend and made lots of new friends who would love to come to the Yukon to play a tournament up here, so hopefully in the future we can offer that option to them,” said Pumphrey.

“We were classy, fun, focused and dominant in our time in Banff and think we did a fantastic job of representing the Yukon and women’s hockey in the Yukon.”

With the top finishes for the two Yukon teams, both have been offered spots in Champion of Champions tournaments this November in various locations. Yukon Gold has to decided between champion tournaments in Montreal, Banff and Las Vegas.

“We’re definitely going, we just have to decide which one we’re going to,” said MacEachen.

“We have been so lucky to have the support of our community in our hockey endeavours,” said Pumphrey. “The news right now is full of women’s hockey programs being cut — North Dakota just lost funding for their women’s hockey program a few days ago — and the USA women’s team fighting for equal pay to the men’s team. The women’s league and tournament teams in Whitehorse have been blessed with an excellent and exceptionally giving community who supports us. A huge thank you to them all.”

That’s not all for Yukon women’s hockey teams. The Yukon Gold Diggers, who won the Rendezvous Hockey Tournament, will compete in another tournament this weekend in Nashville, Tenn.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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