Teams head into medal rounds

Junior boys volleyball looking to break 14-year drought
Correction this story has been updated: Team NWT's junior male volleyball team won silver in 1998. 
 
0803medp

Inuvik's James Day
dives for the ball
during the NWT's
bronze medal game
against the Yukon.

The NWT's junior boys volleyball team has a chance to make history today.

If the team is able to defeat Alaska in the bronze medal game at noon it will be the first time an NWT boys volleyball team has medalled at the games since 1998.

Coach Dean Webb said knowing the games could be a historic event is motivation for his team to perform, and if there has been a team to break the 14-year medal drought, it's his.

“Based on the calibre of people here and the calibre of our team, there is no reason we can't beat Alaska,” he said.

In the round robin, the NWT defeated Alaska in straight sets (28-26, 25-23) their first match. Alaska turned the tables in their second meeting, defeating NWT in straight sets (27-25, 25-22). Both teams are evenly matched and Webb said the game will come down to who comes out to play.

“We've already beaten Alaska and they've beat us. We know what they have and they know what we have. It will just be a matter of who comes out better,” he said. “We're two and two, this is the tiebreaker.”

Webb said he is looking for his team to come together as a unit.

“When we don't play well we have communication breakdowns and volleyball is all about communication. We need to make sure that we're talking and not getting down on each other,” he said.

On the court Webb said he will be looking to he co-captains, Fort Smith's Dezmond McDonald and Yellowknife's Tyler Comeau, to lead by example.

The junior female volleyball team will also play for bronze today at 10 a.m. against Nunavut after losing to Yukon in the semi-finals.

The majority of NWT teams will be heading into medal matches today and tomorrow.

Basketball

The junior boys basketball team will play for bronze against team Alaska today. The boys finished the round robin in second place but lost to Team Yukon in the semi final. The NWT's only round-robin loss was to Yukon.

The NWT junior girls basketball team beat Nunavut in the playoffs to advance to the medal round. The girls are playing in the bronze-medal game; should they win they will advance to the gold medal match.  

Soccer

Medal rounds begin for all five soccer divisions today. All but one of the NWT teams – the junior boys team which finished fifth – are still in medal contention.

Roger Vale, coach of the juvenile boys team, said his team will have to work hard if they hope to make it past Greenland in the playoffs to play for gold. If the team loses, it will face either Alaska or Alberta North for bronze.

“I am hoping we will find our consistency in the playoffs,” said Vale, who described the team's play this week as up and down. “They are going to have to play flawlessly defensively. I've got enough talent to do that.”

The boys will be looking to redeem a 13-2 loss to Greenland in the round-robin.

“Technically (Greenland is) very deep, they are very sound. We're going to have to play good strong defense on them and let the offense pop a couple goals,” he said. “If they have a weakness it's defense.”

The juvenile girls will face Alberta North in playoffs. The winner will go the gold medal game and the loser will play for bronze. Alberta beat NWT 12-1 in the tournament opener.

The junior females will be looking to capitalize on their second shot at Greenland when the two teams meet in the semi-finals. Greenland beat NWT 3-1 in the round robin.

The intermediate girls will face powerhouse Sapmi in the semi-finals. NWT lost 13-1 in the team's first meeting. 

Hockey

The junior girls will be playing for bronze after a 13-2 to loss to Alberta. Despite the score, coach Ali Kincaid said there were bright spots in the game that give her hope the young group will take the bronze when they face Yukon.

“We scored two good goals today against Alberta and we didn't score at all when we first played them,” Kincaid said. Those goals came in the third period when the team was already trailing by a significant margin showing, she said, the girls have the fighting spirit they will need to tap in the playoffs.

“Overall we've got a young team, so it's new to them and every day they are growing,” said Kincaid.

NWT and Yukon opened the tournament with a 2-2 tie.

The bantam boys downed Alaska 6-2 and will face Alberta North for the gold on Saturday. Alberta won the two team's first match-up 3-2.

The midget boys will also play for gold on Saturday after beating Nunavut 6-2. NWT lost its first meeting with Nunavut 6-4 the night before. 

Curling

The NWT boys curling team lost its playoff game to Yukon 9-7 to finish in fourth, but the girls will play Yukon for gold.

At the end of the day Thursday, Team NWT was in third place with 84 medals, Yukon was in second with 84 and Alaska was in first with a commanding lead of 143 medals.