Double silver for NWT boys' hockey

On the last day of competiton, Team NWT takes two more silver uluit
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NWT goalie Josh Round stares down an incoming Tyson Glass in the gold medal midget boys game at the Takhini Arena in Whitehorse.

After a week of tough competition, Team NWT finished third overall in the medal standings with 115 uluit, behind Team Yukon with 121 and Team Alaska with 190.

There were only two NWT teams in action on the last day of competition, the midget and bantam boys’ hockey teams.

Both faced tough rivals on the ice, and both brought home silver medals to add to the count.

In the bantam game, team NWT got off to a rocky start, allowing two goals from team Alberta North in as many minutes in the first period.

They game back strong with a power-play goal minutes later, but Alberta answered immediately with a short-handed goal to bring the total to 4-2.

In the second, Alberta put away another three goals, thanks to hard pressing by their offence that kept NWT off balance and forcing them to call a time out.

The move worked, giving NWT’s Curtis German, of Yellowknife, the momentum he needed to put another puck in the net and bring the score to 7-3.

Alberta drew a major misconduct and a four-minute penalty late in the second, but NWT was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, and went into the third period down eight points to three.

NWT was able to generate many more scoring chances in the third, but still outmatched them in shots and goals.

Alberta kept up the pressure throughout the third period, ultimately ending the contest with a score of 13-6, earning them a gold ulu and relegating NWT to silver.

“You know, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so everyone’s feeling pretty great,” said Alberta North’s Geoff Gordon.

“I think we’re probably going to celebrate for quite a while before we start packing up. But this is something we’re going to cherish for the rest of our lives. The celebration may stop for now, but it’ll be in our hearts for a long time,” he said.

In the midget boys game, NWT was facing a Yukon team on home ice and with a hometown crowd at their backs. The knew going in that it would be a tough game, said NWT centre Luke Daigneault.

All the teams in the tournament were strong, said Daigneault, of Hay River.

“The games have been awesome, really fast-paced hockey. All the teams are really good. Every team has their own strength. Yukon’s pretty strong all round, and Alaska’s the same.

“Our strength is our speed. We’re pretty fit kids, and we have lots of kids who can skate hard and crash the net. The coaching’s also really good. Mike and Brad really know their stuff."

Speed was certainly on NWT’s side, with players charging the Yukon net and out-shooting their opponents almost three to one.

Keegan Hnatiw, of Yellowknife, was able to put one of those shots away unassisted, giving NWT their first but ultimately only goal of the game.

The game was incredibly close with the score tied at one apiece until the third period, when Yukon managed to sneak one into NWT’s net.

With one minute to play, NWT pulled their goalie and pressed hard with six players, but it wasn’t quite enough to even the score. Yukon took the gold and NWT the silver, but Daigneault said the team still held their heads high.

“Yeah, it’s a little bittersweet. We’re obviously feeling a little bad, but Northwest Territories has one done this one other time, so bittersweet is the best way to put it," he said.

"We out shot them by a lot, but their goalie just wasn’t letting anything through. We played really well. I don’t think we could have done anything differently. We left it all on the ice."