Hay River beat Yellowknife in the opening Northern Hockey Challenge series of 2015, winning the first and last games and losing the second.
“It was awesome, it’s a great event,” said James Hiebert after the Huskies won 6-2 Jan. 25 afternoon. “The games were great. That rivalry has been there since I was born, but we make sure to do everything in good sportsmanship, keep it all on the ice.”
Hay River won 7 to 3 on Jan. 23, then lost 5 to 3 on Jan. 24. All three games were fast-paced and entertaining, even when emotions ran high.
“The series are always really close,” Connor Goudreau told The Hub, anticipating the next time the teams meet in Yellowknife, although no date is yet set. “I’m sure they’re going to be feeling a little bitter about this weekend.”
But the NHC is about much more than what happens on the ice in Hay River. Hiebert said it was good to see so many children out watching and cheering on the team.
“Hopefully, it’ll give them something to look forward to one day,” he said. “It’s great to see them out enjoying themselves, and it’s great to see such a big crowd out supporting athletics.”
Although the children present were rightfully cheering for the Huskies as a whole, they reserved their loudest cheers for Mark Harris, who coaches many of the younger players in minor hockey.
“You could really hear a difference when it was Mark who scored,” said Shelley Maher, mother to one of Harris’ charges. “They’re just so excited to see him out there playing… some made signs and wrote his name on their bellies to cheer him on.”
Last year, Hay River and the Yellowknife Flyers tied in two series. This year, one more series is planned for Yellowknife in the upcoming weeks, though no date has yet been set, and there is a possibility of involving Whitehorse as well.
“It’s great to see the guys out here from Yellowknife,” said Hiebert. “They make a big effort to come down here, paying out of pocket for it, and it’s great that they make it happen.”