Nunavut hockey teams hoping for one medal

Girls eliminated, but single win takes boys into medal round

Casey Lessard | Iqaluit
March 10, 2016

Nunavut’s hockey boys have a chance at a medal Thursday when the Arctic Winter Games hockey tournament wraps up in Iqaluit. The team finished fourth of five teams thanks to a 3-2 win Wednesday over Yukon, which was winless in the round-robin.

Nunavut’s girls went winless for the tournament, and were eliminated Wednesday.

nunavutboys

Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Boys still have a chance

The boys started on the right foot Wednesday, having rested Tuesday due to a blizzard in Iqaluit.

“Because they changed the schedule, they moved to three 15-minute periods, which worked in our favour,” said coach Conor Fudge.

Quentien Issaluk gave Nunavut the early lead less than nine minutes into the game. Yukon’s Joseph Coyne evened it up less than a minute later. Yukon then took the lead 5:32 into the second period, but Nunavut’s Josie Kilabuk-Cote shot back, scoring 17 seconds later to tie the game at 2-2. Maxwell Joy and Brad Sigurdson had the assists.

Just before the period wrapped, with 1:27 to go in the second, Brandon Tatty scored the winner, putting the Nunavut into the playoffs. Kevin Voisey had the assist.

“We put together a better effort against the Yukon,” Fudge said. “Playing in the Arnaitok arena helped us. It’s a better rink to match our style of play. We were able to focus on our defensive zone a little more. We got some big efforts out of some guys who were playing through a few minor injuries. We came together in a way we haven’t yet in this tournament.”

Nunavut’s boys played again later Wednesday, but lost 10-3 to the NWT, which eventually seized first-place in the round-robin. Kevin Voisey, Josie Kilabuk-Cote, and Stan Jr Adjuk each scored for Nunavut, with Lonnie Kolit-Carter, Maxwell Joy, and Gregory Atagoyuk earning assists.

Fudge said the score fails to indicate how well his boys played.

“If you look at the first two periods we just had against the NWT, we can come out with a full 60,” he said. The two will face off again Thursday morning.

“I’m feeling optimistic about moving forward,” he said. I think we’ve gotten better every game in this tournament. We focused on drawing positives where we could, winning some small battles each game.

We’re going to try to be that dark horse that might pull one off here.”

nunavutgirls

No luck for the girls

Nunavut’s girls hockey team had a different week, with few chances to find the goals they would need to get a win. After a strong first game, when they scored three goals in a 13-3 loss to Yukon, Nunavut failed to return to the scoreboard. They lost 9-0 to Alaska Monday, then 18-0 to NWT and 11-0 to Alberta North Wednesday.

“We had a rough two games Wednesday, score-sheet wise, but the girls played well,” said coach Steven Paterson. “Really came together and never gave up. It was a really strong finish for the girls.”

The blizzard rest day was a surprise, and forced two games Wednesday.

“It wasn’t what we expected because we didn’t have the rest time we were expecting (between the third and fourth games),” he said. “But maybe it helped because the girls came out flying for our second game today. They honestly finished the tournament on the best note they could.”

The team spent the rest of Wednesday relaxing as many had family fly in from Rankin Inlet and elsewhere. Paterson said they’ll cheer on the boys and explore the capital before flying out Thursday night to Nuuk for Friday’s closing ceremony.