Hockey games shouldn’t be so exciting that early in the day. But fans were drinking their morning joe on the edge of their seats at the Arctic Winter Games on Tuesday.
Team Yukon held on for a 2-1 win over rival territory N.W.T. in junior female hockey to improve to a 1-1 record in the tournament.
“It was a close game, could have gone either way,” said Yukon head coach Louis Bouchard. “We stuck to our game plan and it worked for us.
“They’ve got a couple very strong skaters and shooters on their team and we wanted to shut them down and we did.”
Yukon led for most of the game after a first-period goal from captain Chyanne Spenner, assisted by defenceman Tamara Greek.
After N.W.T. scored on a breakaway early in the third, Greek took matters into her own hands with an unassisted goal with 1:43 left in regulation.
Greek, who is a team veteran and assistant captain, brought the puck over the blue line, out-maneuvered half the N.W.T. team on her way to the net and buried the puck upstairs.
“It’s definitely an honour to play for the Yukon and I wouldn’t be able to do it without my team, that’s for sure,” said Greek. “It’s been a team effort with everything that’s happened. My goal yesterday was because of a nice pass and my goal today was because they supported me when I went up.
“There’s a lot of motivation when you hear our crowd out here. They come out at seven o’clock in the morning just to come and watch us. Thanks to all of them, it really gets us going.”
Yukon outshot N.W.T. 18-13 in the game but was outgunned 6-4 in the third period.
Yukon goalie Abigail Turner got the win with a dozen saves.
“We’re happy with how our younger players are picking up their game,” said Bouchard. “We’re a very young team, so we’re developing and going in the right direction.”
“Tamara had a good game, Chyanne Spenner was winning faceoffs,” he added.
Yukon opened the Games with a 6-1 loss to Team Alaska on Monday. The hosts of the tournament outshot Yukon 38-14.
“They were a strong, strong team,” said Bouchard. “A big part of that team is going to nationals.
“They were just bigger, faster, stronger and older than our girls. We have a couple of 12-year-olds. We still field 12- and 13-year-olds in a U-19 tournament.
“But we still held our own.”
A pair of questionable calls against Yukon early in the game that led to power play goals for Alaska.
In one, it appeared Greek was called with charging while carrying the puck.
“That’s a new call for me,” said Bouchard.
Greek scored to make it 3-1 just 17 seconds into the second period. The 17-year-old carried the puck end-to-end on her first shift of the period.
Greek was named Most Valuable Defenceman in the tournament at the 2012 Arctic Games when Yukon captured the bronze. She also played on Yukon’s silver-winning team at the 2010 Arctic Games in Grande Prairie, Alta. This past season she played for the Richmond Pacific Steelers in the Junior Women’s Hockey League.
Yukon will resume its quest for gold against Team Nunavut Wednesday morning followed by Team Alberta North in the evening to end the round-robin.
A win over Nunavut will all but guarantee a spot in the playoffs that begin Thursday.
N.W.T. defeated Nunavut 4-1 to start the tournament on Monday.
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