A couple of Hay River hockey teams recently played their first competitive games of the season, taking part in tournaments in Peace River and High Prairie, Alta., with mixed results.
The Hay River Huskies, a bantam-level team, travelled to Peace River Nov. 23-25 to play in a Tier A-level tournament.
“The players and coaches were a little apprehensive prior to the tournament because (the team) hadn’t played a game yet this season and they were unsure as to what level the team would fit in,” said Mirjam Cross, whose son Tristan plays on the team.
All the practice paid off, however, as the team prevailed 7-6 in the final against Peace River to come away with the gold medal.
Scott Belanger had a hat trick in that game, finishing the four-game tournament with eight points, while Jordon Schumann and Tristan Cross had five and four, respectively.
Head coach Dean McMeekin said the win represents quite an accomplishment, considering it was the team’s first tournament of the season.
“We got some timely scoring from our finesse players and some timely stops from our goalies,” he said. “Hay River only has one bantam-level team, which means we play in tournaments with a mix of A and B-caliber players. The Peace River coach told me he had 28 players to choose from for his A team, and went with the best 13 for this tournament.”
McMeekin praised his team’s effort, noting, “The boys showed a lot of character, managed to minimize mistakes and really gelled as a unit.”
Meanwhile the Elks, Hay River’s atom-level team coached by Kim Ivanko, played in a Tier 3-level tournament in High Prairie, Alta.
Despite finishing in last place, the team played well, losing a 5-4 heartbreaker against High Prairie and tying Whitecourt by a score of 4-4.
“Throughout the weekend, the team demonstrated great sportsmanship, team spirit and determination,” said Ivanko.
The players also took part in a skills competition.
The Elks were scheduled to take part in another competition Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Beaverlodge, Alta.
by Myles Dolphin