To kick off the season, the Hay River Midget Huskies took the Yellowknife Maple Leafs in all three games played against each other this weekend.
“It went good,” said team captain Joel Demarcke. “They’re a good team to play, the games were pretty competitive.”
What was supposed to be the first hockey tournament of the season turned into a series of exhibition games when the High Level team dropped out, but with the addition of the Hay River Old Timers team, the games were good for everyone. The Huskies won against the team from the capital 3-1, 4-3, and finally 7-0 on Sunday morning, the last day of games.
“We’re still getting used to everyone,” said Demarcke of his team. “There are lots of first-year players, but there’s lots of guys that skate hard, work hard. It’s going well.”
Demarke, now in his last year in minor hockey, said he would have preferred to play against more teams, but looks forward to the rest of the season to do that.
“I’m really glad Yellowknife still came out,” said coach Keith Dohey on Sunday after the last game. “The last game wasn’t indicative of their level throughout the weekend… I think we were playing a tired Yellowknife team, after three games yesterday.”
The visiting team was made up of B-level players from the capital who were just happy to be there, according to their assistant coach Gord Gibeault.
“It’s just good to get them out and playing,” he said, adding that being on the road is always more exciting for players than home games.
Despite being a smaller event than anticipated, Dohey said it was still a good wake-up call for his players.
“We had a bit of a rusty start,” he said, noting that the team improved over the course of the weekend. “They needed to dust off some of the cobwebs.”
The team now has its sights set on their next tournament in Sexsmith, Alta. in December. Dohey said that while the team has lost a few of its strongest players who aged out, quit or moved away, the team is a good one.
“It went well overall,” he said. “I think this weekend was a good chance to see what (other tournaments) are going to look like for them.”