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Moosehide Mammas top of the shop in Hay River Hazard Women’s Hockey Tournament

The Moosehide Mammas from Fort Simpson are your 2024 Hay River Hazard Women’s Hockey Tournament champions after beating the Yellowknife Angry Birds in the final on Sunday. The champs are, front row from left, Shakita Jensen, Caitlin Chambers, Delaney Poitras and Hillary Deneron; back row from left, Abby Webster,Whitney Locken, Susie Chambers, Ryliegh Beck, Heather Atkins, Sara Gordon and Amber Powder. Photo courtesy of Hockey NWT

Women’s hockey took over the Aurora Ford Arena over the weekend as the Hay River Hazard Women’s Hockey Tournament was on full display.

And if you missed it, you missed out on what turned out to be a fantastic finish.

The Moosehide Mammas of Fort Simpson are your champions this year as they managed to outlast the Yellowknife Angry Birds in the final on Sunday by a score of 8-7. The Mammas were made to sweat it out a little down the stretch, but were able to hang on and claim the banner.

And they did it with a bit of help from the capital.

Heather Atkins, who played on the victorious side, said the final was back and forth all the way.

“Lots of goals, but we played very well defensively,” she said. “We had a great group of ladies who played and the atmosphere was amazing. We had a lot of people cheering for us in the stands.”

Five teams were on the ice for the weekend’s festivities. In addition to the Mammas and the Angry Birds, there was a second team from the Yk Robins Women’s League called the Robin Hoods, along with the Fort Smith Fury and the host Hay River Hazard.

The round-robin saw the two Yellowknife teams finish first and second, while the Mammas were in third. The Fury and Hazard were fourth and fifth respectively, meaning they played off on Saturday evening to see who would get the fourth semifinal spot on Sunday. It would be the Fury that emerged victorious to set up a date with the Angry Birds.

The Mammas ended up taking on the Robin Hoods in a contest which set up how the playoff run would go for them. It finished 5-5 after regulation, meaning bonus hockey in the form of a five-minute sudden death overtime period. That solved nothing, either, and it was off to a 3-on-3 shootout. Both teams scored with their first shooters, but Ryliegh Beck would score in the second round to give the Mammas the edge after goaltender Delaney Poitras was able to shut the door on the Robin Hoods.

Poitras would stop the third Yellowknife shooter to give the Mammas the win as they didn’t have to use their third shooter.

“Both teams had lots of chances to score, even a couple of goal posts,” said Atkins.

The final ended up being a bit of a shooting range with the Mammas taking full advantage, building up an 8-5 lead with around two minutes to go in regulation time. Yellowknife pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker and it paid off as they got one goal back to cut the deficit to 8-6.

“We put out our power line then to try and shut it down to keep the lead,” said Atkins.

But the Angry Birds would yank the goalie again for a sixth player and it worked once again as they would score to narrow the gap even further to 8-7. But that would be as close as they got as the Mammas eventually got over the finish line.

With the banner in their possession and breaths caught, Atkins said it was a great weekend.

“Normally, you see the Yellowknife teams in the final, but we had the momentum with us after the semifinal,” she said. “Shakita (Jensen) said we should make things interesting and win and we did.”

Jensen, who was one of the Yellowknife players on the Mammas’ roster, said she didn’t think they would come out on top.

“We lost to both Yellowknife teams in the round-robin and I didn’t know if we would be able to beat them in the semis or the final,” she said. “It was a nice change and I’m so happy we were able to win it.”