Simon Nugent breaks up a rush during the “A” division final. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Yukon Native Hockey Tournament brings exciting finish for Whitehorse hockey fans

‘Tournament included 38 teams in six divisions’

The 41st annual Yukon Native Hockey Tournament was in Whitehorse from March 16 to 18.

Hosted by the Yukon Indian Hockey Association, the tournament included 38 teams in six divisions.

Tournament coordinator Karee Vallevand said the weekend ran smoothly.

“Honestly, this was probably one of the best years for how things ran,” said Vallevand. “We have a great crew. We’ve got everything in place and we’re ready to go when the time comes.”

Vallevand said part of what makes the tournament so popular is everything that happens off the ice.

“I think a huge part of it is the social aspect of the hockey,” said Vallevand. “It’s the start of spring. People like to come to town and shop and get together.”

An action-packed weekend of hockey wrapped up with final games in all divisions on March 18.

The “A” division final was a come-from-behind win by the K&D Outlaws against the Champagne-Aishihik Storm.

Tied at 1-1 after the first period, a second goal from captain Cody Peterson gave the Storm the lead. Another Storm goal from Chris Gleason made the score 3-1.

With under seven minutes left in the game, the Outlaws began their comeback.

A goal from Carson Johnstone at 6:47 of the third made it 3-2 and one from Anthony Kinistino at 3:00 tied the game.

The Outlaws scored the go-ahead goal just 27 seconds later when Vern Smith scored with 2:33 left in the third.

An empty-netter from Johnstone put the game out of reach.

The Outlaws’ victory meant Inuvik’s Tim Gordon was part of an “A” division winner for the first time in 32 years of playing in the tournament.

Peterson was named the division MVP and the top scorer.

In the “B” division final, Reign Lake bested the Deline Braves 6-4.

Reign Lake jumped out to an early lead with a first period goal from Robbie Sidhu.

The score stayed 1-0 all the way until the start of the third period when Deline scored four goals in less than three minutes to build a commanding 4-1 lead.

Wes Kenny opened the scoring for the Braves, followed by Daniel Takuzo and a pair of goals from Mathew Orbell.

It was 4-1 with 6:04 left in the third when Sidhu scored his second and pulled Reign Lake back within two.

Another goal just less than two minutes later from Grayson McMaster cut the lead to one and Sidhu finished his hat trick in style with a game-tying goal with 3:05 left in regulation.

The game-winning goal came just 10 seconds later when Lawrence Anderson lit the lamp at 2:55 in the third. Lloyd Ahkimnachie scored with nine seconds left to put the game out of reach.

Mathew Orbell of the Braves was named MVP and Scott Horsey from the Lower Post Wolf Pack was the top scorer.

The winners of the youth division were the Junior Tahltan Selects after their 6-2 win against the Arctic Backhoe Warriors. Aleksi Leger of the Warriors was named division MVP and his teammate Nevaeh Webb was the top scorer.

In the jamboree division, the Tahltan Selects beat the Energy North Predators 2-1 to win the final. Trenton Hope of the Predators was named MVP and Hunter Gruben, also of the Predators, was the top scorer.

The Nationals beat the Han Timberwolves 4-1 to win the old-timers division 4-1. The Timberwolves’ Dale Balmer and Dave Ezzard were named MVP and top scorer respectively.

The Tu Lidlini Lightning beat the Carmacks Hawks 5-3 in the “C” division final. The Lightning’s Malachi Lavallee picked up a hat trick in the final and was named the MVP and Kelly Ovayuak of the Kaska Warriors was the top scorer.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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Ian Perrier reacts to giving up a goal during the “A” division final between the Champagne-Aishihik Storm and the K&D Outlaws. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Kane Comin tries to slide the puck past goalie Mitchell Jacobson and defenceman Drew Rose. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Travis Rivest loads up a backhand against the K&D Outlaws in the “A” division final on March 18. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

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