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Two-peat in Iqaluit for Rankin

The 2017 Toonik Tyme senior men's champion Canadrill Red Wings of Rankin Inlet are, back row from left, Nick Dunphy, Roy Kopak, Roger Tagoona, Cody Dean, Keith (Butch) Sigurdson and David Clark. In the middle row, from left, are Andrew Simms, Chad Taipana, Pujjuut Kusugak, Rodney Taparti, Shack Merasty and Alaana Groves (stick boy). In the front from left, James Merritt and Panniuq Karetak in Iqaluit earlier this month. - photo courtesy of Lori Tagoona

Rankin Inlet's Canadrill Red Wings fought their way back from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Iqaluit A team 4-3 and claim the 2017 Toonik Tyme senior men's hockey championship in Iqaluit earlier this month.

Canadrill finished first in the round robin and eliminated the Iqaluit Flyers in their semifinal, while Iqaluit A put out Kuujjuaq to advance to the final.

The Red Wings found themselves down 3-0 after the first 10 minutes of the championship tilt, but scored two late in the frame to grab the momentum back from Iqaluit.

Canadrill notched two more in the second to take a 4-3 lead, which held up through a frantic third period to give the Wings the championship.

Red Wings winger David Clark said three of the four teams in the A Division – Canadrill, Iqaluit A and Kuujjuaq – could have gone all the way, and the Iqaluit Flyers were also competitive during the tournament until they were struck by the injury bug.

He said he found the hockey to be fast, competitive and skilled during the tourney.

“Kuujjuaq had a younger team this year that could score a lot of goals, but they gave up a lot too,” said Clark.

“We didn't panic when we got down by three in the final, because we knew we had a strong team and we'd scored quite a few goals during the tournament.

“Getting those two goals in the second half of the first period really got the ball rolling for us, and then we scored a power-play goal to tie the game in the second.

“When Roger (Tagoona) scored to put us ahead 4-3 in the second, no one thought at the time that would be the winner, but our goalie (James Merritt) stood tall and kept turning them away and Roger's goal stood up for the win.”

Clark said, in his opinion, the final was, by far, the best game of the tournament.

He said the action was up and down, with both teams having lots of chances to score, and the goalies for the two sides both playing at the top of their game.

“There wasn't much in the line of penalties being called by the officials, but we expected that going in and it didn't phase us at all.

“This was kind of a mixed team Cody (Dean) put together, but the core of the team was from Rankin Inlet, so it was nice to successfully defend our championship in Iqaluit.

“Rodney (Taparti of Naujaat) joined us at the last minute due to losing some players from his team to travel problems and a few other things, and winning this tournament made me super happy for him.

“Everyone knows what a great player he is, and Rodney's been coming to this tournament for 20 years and this was his first time to win it.

”Scoring a goal in the final just made it that much sweeter for him, I'm sure.”

Clark said it's not unusual for teams to have to pick-up players for Toonik Tyme because the tournament is held so late in the season and a lot guys have played enough hockey for them by the time it rolls around.

He said, at the end of the day, the tourney was a good experience and a lot of fun.

“We played a lot of hockey in two days because we didn't get there until 3 a.m. on the Saturday morning.

“But that seemed to work to our advantage because it kept the guys focused on hockey and we really got into a groove with three games on Saturday and two on the Sunday.

“We just kept getting stronger as the weekend went by and ended-up going all the way.”