Nunavut hockey teams open Games with losses

Boys still looking beyond round-robin, while girls aim for a win

Casey Lessard | Iqaluit
March 8, 2016
Casey Lessard/NNSL photo Nunavut's Maxwell Joy drives in to score one of three Nunavut goals against defending champions Alaska Monday night. Alaska won 14-3.

Casey Lessard/NNSL photo
Nunavut’s Maxwell Joy drives in to score one of three Nunavut goals against defending champions Alaska Monday night. Alaska won 14-3.

The hosts could be left out in the cold at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games hockey tournament, if Nunavut’s bantam boys and female hockey teams can’t pull out a win or two before the playoffs begin Thursday. After day one, the teams had played half of the round-robin tournament, each losing both of their games.

The tournament started early Monday morning, with a pair of 9 a.m. games at Iqaluit’s two arenas. The boys started well enough, holding the game to 1-1 for the first 12 minutes. But Nunavut lost its footing, and Alberta North had the winning goal by the end of the first period. Camille Lavallee, Stan Jr. Adjuk and Kevin Voisey scored for Nunavut in the 10-3 loss.

Across town, the girls had a strong start, scoring twice in the opening period against Yukon. Shortie Qiatsuq and Ocean Machmer helped hold back the western territory, but Yukon pulled away later in the period and didn’t look back the rest of the game. Joy Angnetsiak had the final goal for Nunavut in the 13-3 loss.

It was a tough start but goals were successes, Nunavut girls coach Steven Paterson said.

“That’s the first time we’ve scored three goals in one game,” Paterson said, noting it was his third time coaching at a Games. “That shows that our team is growing. We see it as progress. It’s a number they can see on the board that they haven’t seen before.”

Ron Wassink/AWG photo Nunavut goalie Riley Adams-Lachance stares down an Alaska attack Monday night in Iqaluit. The girls lost 9-0.

Ron Wassink/AWG photo
Nunavut goalie Riley Adams-Lachance stares down an Alaska attack Monday night in Iqaluit. The girls lost 9-0.

That success was harder to come by later in the day, when both teams faced defending champions Alaska. Nunavut’s girls were shut out 9-0. The boys put up a strong second period, scoring three goals, but by that point, they already trailed 7-0 and couldn’t fend off attacks that led to a 14-3 final.

Stanley Jr. Adjuk had a goal and an assist, Maxwell Joy and Quintien Issaluk a goal each, and Josie Kilabuk-Cote two assists in the effort.

Coach Ryan O’Connor said his players were caught off-guard by Alaska’s physical play.

“We’re pretty young and haven’t had a lot of exposure to body contact,” O’Connor said, “so when we get jumped on early like that, it was tough and a little unexpected for the boys. The next time they encounter that, they’ll be a lot better.”

O’Connor said his team needed at least one win Tuesday or Wednesday to stay in the tournament.

“I’m optimistic that we can get a couple wins in this round robin and get ourselves into the crossover games and a medal game,” he said. “Yukon shouldn’t take us lightly.”

Paterson said his team faced a tougher path, but the girls were already showing hints of resilience.

“We’re impressed with the hustle, the never quit,” he said. “We just want to get that first win or a tie, medal round or not.”

Both teams play again Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. The boys face Yukon at Arnaitok Arena, while the girls face NWT at the AWG Complex.