PRINCE GEORGE, B.C.
When the female teams from Yukon and N.W.T. finished their competition at the Canada Winter Games with a game against each other last week, the two sides came together for a big group photo.
If their male counterparts competing this week at the Games find themselves in the same situation at the end of the tournament, don’t expect such a chummy photo op.
The rival territories played a rough, sometimes chippy game against each other, chock full of penalties and bad blood.
At the end, N.W.T. remained winless and Yukon picked up their first victory in Prince George.
“We played two really good periods, took advantage of some penalties they got, and we moved the puck well,” said Yukon head coach Martin Lawrie. “The boys played their best full game, that’s for sure.
“The first period was really strong and I liked the second period. The third period wasn’t bad. A lot of penalties back and forth - gets things a little choppy.”
Yukon topped their neighbours to the east with an 8-2 win on Tuesday, finishing third in their pool in front of N.W.T.
Yukon out-shot them 50-18, scored three power play goals, plus two shorthanded goals in the third to finish them off.
“We got the puck deep and were keeping it deep in their zone, cycling and stuff,” said Yukon captain Mathew Cooper. “We have strong forwards and that helps. We were also a lot more positive on the bench, instead of bringing people down, we were keeping our teammates up. That helped us a lot too.”
Line-mates Dylan Cozens and Joe Stokes led Yukon in scoring with two goals each.
Forward Jonas Leas had a goal and an assist and teammates Riley Smoler, Jesse McCuaig and Mack Benn-Wipp also scored. Forward Bryce Anderson notched two assists.
“It was a good game. The team all came together and started playing as a team,” said Yukon goalie Tynan Hope, who got the win in his first start for the team.
“I was a little bit (nervous) but not too much. I knew what the N.W.T. team looked like because we went up there before for preliminary games. And I felt like I played pretty well.”
Yukon lost 11-2 to Newfoundland on Monday. Forward Gavin Lawrie and captain Cooper scored and defenceman Matt Braga notched an assist.
That loss was more bearable than the first: Yukon lost 13-0 to P.E.I. on Sunday. The way the loss happened was worse than the score.
Yukon and P.E.I. locked horns in a tight battle for 14 minutes before a shorthanded goal for P.E.I. sent Yukon in a downward spiral. P.E.I. then scored three more in a little over two minutes at the end of the first period and Yukon couldn’t pull out of the nosedive.
N.W.T. scored first on Tuesday but Yukon didn’t get rattled this time. Instead, they answered back with four goals by the end of the first period.
“We didn’t give up like we did in the other two games, we actually came back and ended up winning,” said Hope.
“They are feeling a lot better,” said Cooper. “The first two losses were kind of tough on them and they were really down. But after the win today they got excited, they’re happy, they’re in the locker room dancing.”
The Yukon squad has Wednesday off but will be back in action to face the loser of a P.E.I.-Saskatchewan matchup on Thursday, followed by another placement game on Friday to finish the
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