The Hay River Huskies claimed second place in a bantam hockey tournament earlier this month.
The Huskies competed against three out-of-town teams who travelled to Hay River for the competition, held from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10.
“The team played well,” said Shaun Demarcke, one of the coaches for the Hay River Huskies. “They were in each game. I think we have three kids that just started hockey this year and a couple that started hockey last year.”
The team was made up of nine boys and five girls.
“They improved game by game,” Demarcke noted. “That’s good.”
Top spot in the tournament was claimed by the Yellowknife Oldtime Rangers, and Hak’s Auto Body of Yellowknife took third.
The other team in the tournament came from Fort Smith.
“There was some good competition,” said Kim Mabbitt, the bantam director with Hay River Minor Hockey. “Some great games were played.”
Mabbitt was also pleased with fan support for the tournament.
“We had a pretty good turnout,” she said. “I think it was well attended, especially for the Friday night games because people want something to do. The weather was crappy, so the stands were pretty much filled.”
It is unusual for the tournament to be held in November.
“We have a tournament every year,” Mabbitt explained. “Sometimes it’s later on in the year, but this time we wanted to do a tournament before the Arctic Winter Games trials just to kind of get some ice time for our members.”
The tryouts for the NWT bantam hockey team for the Arctic Winter Games are set for Inuvik from Dec. 12-14.
Demarcke said there was some AWG-calibre talent at the Hay River tournament – a few players from Yellowknife, one from Fort Smith and a couple from Hay River who might have a chance to make the territorial team.
Bantam players are usually 13 or 14 years of age.
The number of teams at the tournament was a bit low this year.
Demarcke noted that, in the last few years, teams have come from the Alberta communities of Rainbow Lake and High Level.
However, he noted that Alberta has had league play for a few years, and that is affecting hockey in the North.
“They play every weekend in a couple of league games,” Demarcke said. “So it’s been harder and harder to find tournaments down south or for them to come up here because they’re so busy playing games.”