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Karetakers down Arviat A to claim A Division crown at JLM senior men’s tourney

The 2024 Jon Lindell Memorial Division A champs the Karetakers are, back row, from left, Dustin Karetak (waterboy), Kaludjak Karetak, Roger Tagoona, Kajon McKay, Uukkualuk Karetak, Tyler Tattuinee and Konrad McKay. Front row, from left, Robert Karetak, James Merritt, Napajuq Karetak, Pujjuut Kusugak, Panniuq Karetak, Kudluk Illnik, Jordan St. John, Wendel Kaludjak and Amauyaq Lindell. Photo courtesy Pierre Ikhakik

The 2024 Calm Air Cup Jon Lindell Memorial senior men’s hockey championship returned to Arviat in riveting fashion from Feb. 1-4.

The Karetakers staked Rankin Inlet A to an early 2-0 lead in the first period before storming back with seven of their own to claim the A Division banner in Arviat on Feb. 4, 2024.

In the B Division, Eskimo Point held off a blitzing Team Todd offence until the dying seconds of the third period.

With the crowd going wild and Eskimo Point holding on to their one-goal lead by the skin of their teeth, for a moment it appeared Team Todd pushed the tying goal into the back of the net just as the siren — drowned out almost entirely by the screaming crowd — brought the action to an end.

The on-ice officials ruled time ran out before the puck crossed the goal line and Eskimo Point claimed the B Division banner.

Longtime Kivalliq star forward and Karetakers assistant captain Pujjuut Kusugak said after the weekend’s action had wrapped up, that Karetakers goalie Seth Ningeongan played an incredible tournament and deserved the tourney’s best goalie award.

Kusugak said it was really nice to return to Arviat and compete for the JLM title once again, after the tourney’s brief absence from the Kivalliq regional hockey scene.

He said the tournament was extremely well run and was a pleasure to take part in.

“Our family was extremely proud and honoured that the tourney kept the family name. Proud and happy,” he said.

“The ice conditions weren’t always great, but the tournament ran well and was very competitive.

“The crowds were awesome all weekend long and a lot of fun to play in front of.

“Arviat always had great crowds, very enthusiastic, and there to support their favourite teams.”

Kusugak said he was most impressed during the tournament at the level of skating by the younger players.

“It was also obvious the growing hockey sense among the younger players. The minor hockey coaches have put a lot of hard work into bringing the overall level of skating higher than I think it’s ever been before.

“A couple of players we brought up from the south said the overall skill levels and skating ability was very noticeable.

“We’re really hoping we’ll be able to keep our Karetakers team together for the Terence Tootoo Memorial (TTM) in Rankin Inlet.

“We’re taking our team to a tournament in Kenora, Ontario., and we’re hoping to use the action at the TTM to get ready for it. A lot of great hockey ahead of us still. And a big thank you to the community of Arviat for a great tournament weekend.”