Carmacks’ James Billy ended his oldtimer hockey career on top.
After playing in the Whitehorse Oldtimer Hockey League for more than a decade, the Yukon Inn goalie helped his team take the league title on Friday at the Canada Games Centre.
“I couldn’t have done it without all the guys here,” said Billy. “We gelled right from the first game and everybody did their part.”
Yukon Inn captured the oldtimer title with a 5-2 win over the Firth Rangers on Thursday and a 4-1 win Friday. In the two-game final format, after losing Thursday the Rangers needed to win in regulation on Friday to push the game to an overtime that would decide the league champions.
“They were actually close games, well played,” said Yukon Inn forward Sean McLeish. “Both teams played hard but responsibly. There was no chippiness out there. We didn’t pull away until late in the second period.”
Yukon Inn finished the regular season in first with a 23-11-8 record. Billy was the top goalie in the league with a 2.68 goals against average, posting four shutouts during the regular season.
“Firth had some pretty good shooters,” said Billy. “My defence let me see the puck and what I didn’t stop, they stopped.
“We gelled as a team and all came together at the crucial time.”
Firth went into the playoffs seventh out of nine teams with a losing 15-19-8 record. The Rangers defeated Medicine Chest 5-2 on April 9 to reach the final.
“We kind of put it together. We were missing lots of players,” said Rangers captain Dave Ecker. “We played five or six games with just three defencemen … When you play with just three defenceman, there’s not much you can do but just survive.”
The Rangers were missing Greg Charlie, who was third in the league for points during the regular season with 34 goals and 34 assists. They also lost goalie Eugene Johnson to an injury sustained during the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament last month.
“They have lots of speed. They play hockey, I’m not sure what it is we play,” added Ecker. “(Goalie) Glen (Traverse) gave us a chance, but it was too much for him too.”
Yukon Inn took control of Friday’s game in the second. Starting the period tied 1-1, Yukon Inn centre Gord Campbell scored his second and third of the game for a natural hat trick. He also had two assists in Thursday’s game.
Campbell finished fourth in points during the regular season with 31 goals and 37 assists.
“Gordie’s really fast but also really quick,” said McLeish. “He’s solid with the puck and can stickhandle through two or three guys routinely and makes great passes. He set me up a number of times this year.”
Chad Cowan, who was second on the team in scoring, got Yukon Inn’s final goal of the season on Friday and had two in Thursday’s game. Lawrence Ignace, Pat Tobler and McLeish also scored on Thursday.
Brian McWatters scored the Rangers’ one goal on Friday while Mike Gau and Mike Rispin scored on Thursday.
Rispin was second in the league for points during the regular season with 33 goals and 37 assists.
“We’re a good group of guys and everyone played a contributing role,” said McLeish. “All year we played good defence – we didn’t blow people out. We had close, good games against every team in the league.
“We all share the puck, pass it well and get back to play some pretty good defence. I think that was our secret this year.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com