Considering a couple Yukon Strikers representative teams were shutout in every game last week and weekend at the BMO National Championships, the U-18 men’s team’s two wins are unassailably a major accomplishment.
“We weren’t expecting to do so well considering our numbers,” said head coach Nick Locke. “We only had one sub so it was hard to get our guys energized everyday.”
Competing at the BMO National Championships Sony U-18 Cup in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Yukon Strikers picked up a 4-3 over Nova Scotia in their third game with goals from Kyle Risby, Dillon Vickerman and two from Jesse Latoski. However, the following day, playing the same team in the playoffs, the Yukon crew fell 3-0.
“Nova Scotia is usually a top-ranked team - usually like number five - and they were a really talented team, but we just made a huge effort and played really well that one day and surprised them,” said Locke. “When we played again they put out a much better effort.”
The Strikers then avoided a last-place finish with a 6-3 win over Newfoundland, putting in five goals in the second half. Finding the back of the net for the Strikers were Vickerman, Robbie Borud, Latoski, Travis Olynyk and a pair from Caleb Kelly.
“We have some talented players - like five or six guys that could make college or university teams this year,” said Locke. “It’s just hard to gauge how well we’re going to do because we didn’t get any really good games in before we left.
“The guys showed a lot of heart, worked really hard on the pitch and worked well together.”
Although taking a loss, the Yukon squad had a big first match, facing powerhouse Ontario and keeping the province to just two goals in a 2-0 match.
“I think that might be the best result a Yukon team has got against Ontario,” said Locke. “I’ve been on very talented teams in the past and we usually end up losing by six or seven goals.
“Their coach was freaking out on the ref.”
U-16 boys never say
die in Vaughan
While the Yukon Strikers U-16 boys’ team, which competed at the BMO Championships in Vaughan, Ontario, went home without a win, they did catch the attention of national level coach Sean Fleming, who watched the Strikers lose 10-0 to Manitoba.
“He said the thing that impressed him about the team was it fought right through to the final minute to score a goal,” said Strikers head coach Arnold Hedstrom. “We never quit, never laid down the gloves and said it’s over.”
The Strikers found themselves in tough company in the round-robin, not only facing finalist Manitoba, but beginning the tournament against Ontario, losing 9-0.
“My overall feeling about the team’s performance was that, even when the score was quite high, like against Ontario and Manitoba, the team still played very well,” said Hedstrom. “Those are formidable opponents and our goal was to score a goal, which we didn’t do in either of those two games, but our other goal was to get as many 10-minute blocks together as we could where they weren’t scoring on us. We achieved a lot in those two games.
“When we played Manitoba they played their strongest line-up the whole game because they had to match the goal scoring of Ontario to get into the top group.”
In the team’s remaining games, the Strikers had more luck, in terms of reaching the scoreboard. Playing New Brunswick in consecutive games - from round-robin to the playoffs - Yukon striker Kurtis Hills scored in each game en route to 3-1 and 4-1 losses.
The Strikers finished their stay with a 5-4 loss to PEI with Hills scoring a hat trick while teammate Thomas Scoffin also booted one in.
U-14 girls play fair in Moncton
A look of shear determination is one way to psych out an opponent, but a smile and kind words have their own benefits.
The Strikers U-14 girls’ team, competing in Moncton, New Brunswick, last week, did not pick up any wins - or goals for that matter - but they didn’t leave empty-handed. The amiable Yukon squad were given the tournament’s Fair Play Award.
“The girls made a lot of friends and were quite friendly with the other teams,” said Strikers head coach Tony Gaw.
Despite getting blown away in their opener, losing 12-0 to the eventual champion team from BC, the Strikers did have some close matches, losing 4-0 to Newfoundland, allowing a couple late-game goals, 9-0 to New Brunswick’s No. 1 team, 2-0 to Saskatchewan and 4-0 against New Brunswick’s No. 2 team. (The host province can enter an additional team.)
“The girls played pretty well, all and all,” said Gaw. “The chaperone and manager (Leslie Gomm) that went down with the team did a really good, bang-up job and I couldn’t have done it without them.
“Sam Wintemute played really well. Another girl, who played hurt the whole time with a bad ankle from a previous injury, was Stephanie Avery. And then Sam Burgis played very good as well.”
U-14 boys grab win over New Brunswick
After losing their first four matches at the nationals in Moncton, New Brunswick, last week, the Yukon Strikers U-14 boys’ team finally picked up a win, with not much time to spare.
Playing New Brunswick’s No. 2 team, with just 10 minutes left in regulation time, Strikers’ Etienne Geoffrey knocked in a ball spilled by the New Brunswick goalkeeper on a shot from Kieran Halliday, giving the team a 1-0 lead they sustained until the final whistle.
“The goalie got a piece of it, but it still found its way to the back of the net,” said Strikers head coach Jake Hanson.
After suffering a pair of lopsided losses against giants Quebec and BC, the Strikers produced some closer matches against PEI, losing 5-1, with a goal from Halliday, and then 8-3 on Sunday.
For Sunday’s game the Strikers pulled their goalkeeper Dominic Korn and moved him up to forward, scoring three goals in the first half and even, early on, giving his team a 2-0 lead.
“Dominic got a fair bit of attention from people around the tournament because he was making outstanding saves,” said Hanson. “We were seeing a lot of shots against the big provincial clubs like Quebec and BC. He’s just an incredibly athletic boy and showed his athleticism in the net.
“Andrew Scoffin played extremely well,” continued Hanson. “He played stopper and sweeper for us and he’s such a fast, hardworking mobile player that wins the ball in the back and finds a way to play under pressure. And Kieran Halliday up front, he was our goal scoring threat.”
The U-16 girls team, competing in Vaughan, Ontario, went winless at the championships, finishing last. The team’s coach was unavailable for comment.
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