We’re a week removed from the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in the South Slave and I already pronounced the Games a success. But there’s some unfinished business I need to tend to and that’s my favourite parts of the show when it comes to Yellowknife’s best and brightest. With that in mind, here’s some thoughts from the week that was:

From goat to gold

I can’t start this without mentioning Alex Cordero.

Cordero was the hero of the gold ulu game in bantam boys hockey as he ripped one past Alberta North’s goaltender with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation time to give the boys a 4-3 win. It was a fitting end to what was turning into a nightmare for the young man who was punching above his weight in terms of age. He was one of those rare examples of a peewee player playing up in bantam and he didn’t look out of place at all.

Cordero has been burned twice in the final as he coughed up the puck on two separate occasions which led to two goals for Alberta North. Head coach James McCarthy would have sat Cordero for a bit to let him sweat it off, but that’s why I’m not head coach and that’s why Shawn Talbot, head coach of the bantam boys team, is so much smarter than I am. He kept giving Cordero regular shifts and it paid off.

Tired of losing to Yukon

The boys volleyball team came home with a silver ulu, one which honestly surprised me. Considering that Yukon had always gotten in

Alex Cordero starts the rush up ice during the bantam boys gold ulu game in Hay River on March 23. Cordero played the hero’s role by scoring the gold ulu-winner late, putting to bed what was a nightmarish game up to that point. James McCarthy/NNSL photo

the way of a guaranteed podium finish.

That all changed this year as Team NT beat Yukon in the semifinal to get to the final against Alberta North. They lost, but at least they beat Yukon, the seemingly perpetual Achilles’ heel for the territory.

I’m happy for several players on that team who were in their final duty for Queen and territory in terms of representation. Players like Taltson McQueen, Braden Johnston and Felix Flamand went out in a blaze of glory, if you will, and got a just reward for all their years of service.

A throw for the ages

Dene games and Arctic sports are always fan favourites at the Arctic Winter Games and they didn’t disappoint. Especially Zhanayii Drygeese of Dettah who may just live in the books forever for her record-breaking throw in the juvenile girls snow snake.Drygeese’s first throw of the competition hit a record at 246 ft. and breaking the old record by close to 20 ft.

Because she’s juvenile, she still has at least one more crack at the Games in the junior girls division. And there’s always the possibility with plenty of calls to open up Dene games to include open women’s events that she could compete more. Lots of women enjoy competing in the games and it would only make sense.

But at least Drygeese is in the record books and if her juvenile girls days are anything to go by, I’m sure I’ll be writing about her breaking the junior girls record in Whitehorse in 2020.

Call it two for the girls

Two years ago, the juvenile girls futsal teams stunned a very partisan crowd in Greenland and the Greenlandic team itself to win gold in extra time. Most of that NWT team returned to play this year in the junior girls division and did it again.

Alaska provided the opposition for them and they didn’t disappoint as they won by a score of 4-2. Katie Hart provided the exclamation point almost on the stroke of full time with a shot that rang in off the crossbar, futsal’s version of bardown.

It’s a different division, but it’s always great to see a group of girls who knew each other so well do it all over again and go out with a bang. There’s a good chance these girls won’t be together again for Whitehorse and if this is the last time, why not do it in style?

Snowboarding is the new speedskating

I’ve always enjoyed gloating about how speedskating has been a cash-cow for Team NT at the Arctic Winter Games. Case in point: the 2010 Games saw the speedskaters return from Grande Prairie, Alta., with one-third of the territory’s ulus.

This year, though, it was the snowboarders who impressed. I didn’t get a chance to see them because I was based in Hay River and the snowboarding was in Fort Smith, but the ulus were coming fast and furious thanks to their exploits at Riverside Park.

Tegan Konge had herself quite the week with plenty of ulus in her back pocket, as did Georgia Martin. Ben Toner and Milo Martin did the boys proud also. The good part about this is some are still young enough to compete in Whitehorse and the experience in Fort Smith will only do them good.

And with that, we put the 2018 Arctic Winter Games to bed.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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