It took a little while for Yukon’s Coates Lead Dawgs to find their footing, but when they did they took a win and a medal.
The Lead Dawgs won their final game to take “B side gold” at the 2014 Mixed Broomball Nationals on Saturday in Calgary, Alta.
They beat the Alberta Blazers 6-1 in the consolation game between the two teams that didn’t make the playoff round.
The Yukon team lost their first five games at the championships before the win on Saturday.
“Like any typical Yukon team that goes out to a tournament, it took us a few games to catch up to the pace of the competition and develop a bit of chemistry,” said Yukon captain Chris Saunders. “Once we got caught up to the speed, we were doing all right. It was a little chaotic the first few games but then we came around and the crew was playing together a little bit better … and we weren’t too far off the competition.
“I was hoping we’d do a little bit better. Given the experience that we had, some of them were in their first year of broomball, it went not too badly.”
Though winless in the round-robin, the Yukon team, assembled with players from the Yukon Broomball Association’s league, kept cool heads and also walked away with the Most Sportsmanlike Team award.
“It was on and off the ice that determines that,” said Yukon coach and defenceman Milford Allain. “It’s an aspect of Yukon that we like to show off. We’re good sportsmen too, so it was a nice ending to it.”
“The biggest problem we had to overcome was not how rough the play was, but it was a lot more physical than we anticipated,” added Allain, who led the team in assists with three. “The adjustment to that took about three games, I would say.”
The Lead Dawgs opened with a 2-1 loss to Manitoba’s Tenby, who went on to take the bronze.
Yukon then lost 3-1 to Blazers – who they later beat on Saturday – and 3-1 to Saskatchewan’s Regina Trashers.
Then there was a lopsided 8-0 loss to Quebec’s Broom-Shak Becancour, who went on to win gold, and a fifth loss, 3-0 to Ontario’s Hillbillies, who took silver.
“In the round-robin it was very close; we were in every game we played,” said Allain. “We played really well, but our adjustment to the physical play at that level was our biggest detriment. We didn’t adjust fast enough to that and by the time we did, it cost a couple goals, which cost us the games in those close matches.”
Yukon forward Justin Saunders led the team in points with five goals and an assist. Teammates Cody Claggett, Amber Saunders, Lawrence Ignace and Matt Mcdonald also logged goals for Yukon.
Terry Joss and Sandra Beitz had two assists each in the tournament.
Lead Dawgs goalie Sheena Laluk was named her team’s Most Valuable Player with a 3.33 goals against average.
“Sheena took over the role of goalie for us just a month before the tournament and she played outstanding,” said Allain. “Other teams commented on how well she played. Once we told them she was a new goalie, they couldn’t believe it. She stood on her head and we really have to thank her for some of those close games.”
Many of the players on the team will likely represent Yukon and Canada at the 2014 World Broomball Championships this November
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