Despite having fewer teams than they hoped for, organizers said this year’s NWT High School Hockey Championships went on without a hitch.
Only three teams were involved in this year’s competition, and Yellowknife’s Sir John Franklin took the title after beating out Diamond Jenness 3-2 in the final.
SJF, DJSS and Kiilinik from Cambridge Bay competed in a round robin all weekend long, and even played some games against a team comprised of local RCMP officers and DJSS teachers.
The games against the RCMP and teachers did not count towards final standings, but allowed for the students to have that extra ice time and longer breaks during the tournament.
SJF dominated the tournament, but when it came down to the final game, the local team put up a fight right to the end, but could not manage to come out on top.
Tensions were high between the two teams, with the penalties adding up and the occasional shove taking place between two players.
DJ led the game with a 1-0 score at the end of the first, but SJF came back to tie up the game.
DJ came back early in the second to retake their lead scoring with a two man advantage, but that wasn’t enough to solidify the title.
A shoving match led to penalties on both teams with only four minutes left in the second half. Yellowknife took the opportunity to score with just over three minutes left, and then scored again, putting the game out of reach with 1:44 remaining in the tournament.
Tim Borchuk, coach of the DJ team, said that the tournament was a great success considering the limited number of teams.
“It went really good,” he said. “In talking to the other coaches they said they had a great time.”
Borchuk noted that there has been a bit of a downward spiral from previous years, and last year the tournament wasn’t even held because only two teams, including Hay River, were able to attend.
“The economy certainly doesn’t help,” said Borchuk of the minimal attendance. “It certainly hurt us but the hockey was great. The final was a great game. It was a good weekend.”
He plans are already in motion, he said, in terms of planning next year.
“The other teams are starting to fundraise for next year,” he said. “We will just have to try advertising a little bit earlier and pushing a little bit harder in hopes of getting a few more teams.”