Yukon outscored 53 0 in opening games

Pointers from NHL and Olympic greats last week during Whitehorse's Hockey Day in Canada celebrations weren't enough to prepare the Yukon girls' hockey team for competition at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax.

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA

Pointers from NHL and Olympic greats last week during Whitehorse’s Hockey Day in Canada celebrations weren’t enough to prepare the Yukon girls’ hockey team for competition at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax.

The beleaguered team has been getting fewer shots on net than their opponents have been getting goals in their first three games of the competition.

“Our girls have never played at this level,” said Yukon head coach Louis Bouchard. “They have never skated against girls that fast, that strong and who know that game that well. It’s a learning experience for them, but the learning curve is pretty steep.”

Yukon opened the Games with a 17-0 loss to Quebec on Sunday, getting outshot 58-2, with both coming from assistant captain Dana van Vliet.

Then the territory had a tougher time against Manitoba, losing 19-0, seeing 64 shots to Yukon’s two, both from forward Natalja Blanchard.

“No matter what the score was, we just kept on pushing,” said Yukon captain Savannah van Vliet of the loss to Quebec. “It didn’t feel like we were losing that bad. It felt like we came here to play our game and that’s what we were doing.”

On Tuesday, New Brunswick inflicted a second 17-0 loss onto Yukon, outshooting the territory 76-5.

“At first I was surprised, but knowing they are a couple years older and they play at higher levels, I think it’s awesome how well we’ve been holding our own and how many shots I’ve been saving,” said Yukon goaltender Jocelyn Wynnyk. “It’s not the easiest thing to go out there and take on these big teams, but it’s all about having fun, doing the best you can and focusing on each shot.

“Back home we used to get down on ourselves when we lost, but not once have we gotten upset with each other or freaked out. We’ve been staying positive through all three games.”

There is more going on here than the old Canada Games story of big provinces beating the snot out of everyone else. True, with NWT and Nunavut both absent from the Games in girls’ hockey, Yukon is by far the smallest population wise. But age, and all that goes along with it – experience, strength, speed – is also making a difference.

In the 18-and-under tournament, Yukon is by far the youngest with an average player age of 14.6. Not one of the three teams the Yukon has played so far has a single player born after 1995. In fact, Yukon’s back-up goalie, Maya Oakley, is the youngest player in the tournament at age 12.

“We’re playing out of our league, but that’s also part of the game,” said Bouchard after the loss to Quebec.

“They outplayed us, but we had a couple of breakaways, a couple of chances.

“We set out with little goals: win face offs, playing whistle to whistle, and we did that. The girls came out fighting, but they were outworked – we’re playing 18-year-olds with a bunch of 15-year-olds.”

Another glaring factor that comes by comparing Yukon’s roster to the others’ is the club listings. Since the Yukon girls’ team is the Yukon’s only girls’ team, every player is listed as members of the Northern Avalanche in the Yukon Amateur Hockey Association. Looking at Quebec’s roster, any player not on a post-secondary team is, for the most part, playing junior level hockey.

“They’re hard and they’re fast, but they are so much fun,” said captain van Vliet, referring to her team’s first three games. “We’re staying positive and will continue to play hard.”

Despite the blowouts, Yukon looks to be in high spirits as the look to their next game, playing Nova Scotia Wednesday evening at the Halifax Metro Centre.

“Tomorrow is going to be tough because it’s a late-night game and we’re playing the hometown favourites,” said Bouchard.

If gloom and despair starts to set in on the bench, perhaps Bouchard can remind them of what Mel Davidson, Canada’s women’s hockey coach for the last two Winter Olympics, told them in a locker room visit before the Manitoba game.

“She said that they don’t really care about the score, they (Hockey Canada scouts) want to see girls out there fighting for the puck, not giving up and that shows character,” said Bouchard. “Character and hard work can take you a long way.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Jibo comes North

Interactive robot is a pricey assistant with personality

Warm weather causes dangerous road conditions in southern Yukon

‘We have to chain up the sand machines just to get out’

Lunchtime power outage plunges parts of south Yukon into darkness

Power to 7,800 residents was out for up to 90 minutes

Darryl Sheepway murder trial comes to a close with Crown submissions

The Crown presented its closing submissions Dec. 8. A verdict is expected in January

Teachers’ Association president placed on leave following ‘serious’ allegations

‘I’m going to let the membership decide what it is that they want to do about this’

Lower Post, B.C., man suing Yukon RCMP over assault allegation

Suit alleges man ended up with ‘ended up with bruising on his arms, biceps and chest’

Yukon Riverment host South Okanagan Knights for 3-game series

‘Having 15 games at home is absolutely unheard of for a Yukon team’

Sort those recyclables

The mills that receive our recyclables are getting pickier

Celebrating 40 years of celebrating Yukon’s history

This year the Yukon Historical and Museums Association marks a major milestone

All about recalls

If your ride is subject to a recalll, take it in right away

Whitehorse tyke hockey program embraces half-ice setup

‘If they’re on half-ice, they get to touch the puck’

Yukon Men’s Basketball League expands in fourth season

‘Come playoff time, guys get a little more intense and the skill level increases’

The very long term view on commodity prices

A Long-Run Version of the Bank of Canada Commodity Price Index is as hot a title as it sounds

Most Read