The Hazard Hockey Tournament’s championship banner will remain north of 60° again this year – just not with the team local fans had been hoping for.
One year after the Fort Smith Fury shut out Hay River Explosive 3-0 to claim the title, the team from Yellowknife secured the championship with a resounding 5-1 win over the Chevy Chasers from High Level, Alberta. Both teams entered the final with identical unbeaten records.
Tournament organizer Holly Spares said while the local fans didn’t get to see a home team take the title, they were treated to three days of exciting hockey action from the seven teams.
“Everyone hopes to end up in the final,” Spares said. “Both Hay River teams had played great games but just came out short.”
Yellowknife and High Level made the final thanks to identical 4 and 0 records. Fort Smith Fury, the tournament’s defending champions, finished in third with a 3 and 1 record, with Hay River A in fourth, the NWT development team in fifth, and Hay River B and the Fort Simpson Moosehide Mammas tied for sixth.
In the final, Yellowknife scored third first period goals minutes after goalie Karen Brown turned aside a flurry of High Level chances. First period markers by Val Conrad, Dani Hawes, and Ali Kincaid gave Yellowknife a substantial lead heading into the second, and final, period.
Kincaid second of the contest at 23:12 made it 4-0, and was followed quickly by a shot by Leigha Burrill at 21:35 that seemed to handcuff High Level goalie Loretta Yakinneah.
Connie Hebert’s score with less than six minutes to play ruined Brown’s bid for the shutout.
While fans weren’t able to cheer on a local team in the final, they witnessed the strong play of some young local talent: Jasmin Marshall, who played for the NWT development team, and 11 year-old Reanna Cross, who patrolled the crease for the Moosehide Mammas.
Cross, an atoms player, occasionally comes out to play with the Hazards. She said she was shocked to get a phone call from the Fort Simpson team on Saturday morning asking if she would like to play.
“I got to meet some really nice new people. That feels pretty great,” she said. “My team was really nice, and without them we would not have been as good.”
For Cross’ mom, Mirjam, the experience was exciting.
“I thought it was great. She got 40, 50 shots every game and she let in a couple. But she fought hard. She didn’t give up, so that was great.”