The Hay River Huskies split a pair of games against the Inuvik Delta Stars in the opening weekend of the Northern Hockey Challenge on Jan. 25 & 26. The Stars came out on top by a score of 7-5 in the first game, while the Huskies won 3-1 in game two the following night. The action took place at the Roy ‘Sugloo’ Ipana Memorial Arena in Inuvik.
The Hay River coaching staff was relatively satisfied with their team’s performance throughout the weekend, considering how limited their training had been together.
“I thought the guys played a great game last night and again tonight,” said Curtis Broadhead after Saturday night’s game.
Broadhead said he wasn’t surprised to see a tighter performance from both sides following a scoring frenzy in the first game.
“It happens as the teams start to get to know each other,” he said. “We haven’t really had time to practise or gel as a team. This league came together really fast, in a matter of weeks.”
Hay River outshot Inuvik by a wide margin in the second game, 59-26.
Curtis Rowe, a Huskies forward who scored in both games, said he was enthusiastic about the new league.
“It gives us a chance to raise the profile of hockey,” he said.
Late in the second game, Huskies player Shaun Demarcke was injured and was helped off the ice.
Demarcke said he doesn’t even remember the play in question.
“I don’t know what happened and neither does the guy who travelled with me on the medevac to Yellowknife,” he said of Hay Riverite Mike Gravel. “I remember playing hockey and then being taken to the hospital. I haven’t really spoken to my teammates since then, but I’m anxious to find out what really happened.”
Demarcke skipped the second game and came back to Hay River on Jan. 27.
“I’m not 100 per cent, but I’m close,” he said of his health. “I heard that I may have been slew footed, but I really wish I could remember what happened.”
The Delta Stars player who caused the injury sent a text message to Gravel, while Demarcke was in the hospital, to check up on the injured player.
“That was nice to hear that he was looking out for me,” Demarcke said.
The Northern Hockey Challenge is a league made up of seven teams: Yellowknife, Inuvik and Hay River in the NWT; Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet and Repulse Bay from Nunavut; and Kuujjuaq from Nunavik.
— Myles Dolphin
– With files from Shawn Giilck