If you drove past the Multiplex on Wednesday afternoon, you knew exactly what was going on judging by the amount of cars in the parking lot.
If you drove past and didn’t know, it was only the biggest day of the hockey season in Yellowknife.
The 39th Wade Hamer Challenge Cup once again emanated from the barn on the corner of Kam Lake Road and Woolgar Avenue featuring the Sir John Franklin Falcons and St. Pat’s Irish once again doing battle for the right to put the trophies on display in their respective schools for the next 12 months.
And those trophies will be going to Sir John Franklin as the Falcons won both the girls and boys games by identical scores of 4-1 each.
The girls game was first up and it was essentially the Emma Carey Show as the Falcons captain scored all four goals to lead her team to victory.
Carey said she knew St. Pat’s wouldn’t go down without a fight.
“They have so many amazing girls,” she said. “I thought we were running for our lives at some points.”
The opening few minutes of the game saw both teams have decent chances with neither dominating at that point. Carey’s first goal came courtesy of a blast that beat St. Pat’s goaltender Alexana Kapraelian. She followed that up a few minutes later to give the Falcons a 2-0 at the intermission.
They would double that lead with two quick goals near the midway point of the second period before Zoey Remo of St. Pat’s scored with around two minutes left to make things interesting.
The Falcons definitely had the advantage between the pipes with Ellie Loutitt backstopping the eventual winners, but Kapraelian didn’t embarrass herself by any stretch as she came up with several really good saves to keep her team in it.
“Ellie’s our rock, she’s amazing, she brought this home for us,” said Carey,
This was Carey’s last game as she’s graduating this coming summer and she said she’ll miss it big time.
“I’m gonna miss the girls, miss the team, everything,” she said.
The boys game started out much the same as the girls game in terms of the feeling-out process, but not too many chances in the early going. That was until Sir John’s Braden Brenton fired one past Irish goaltender Jackson Bowden to give the Falcons the early lead midway through the first period. Hayden Murray would make it 2-0 on the power-play as he rifled a shot from the left face-off circle over Bowden’s shoulder.
From there, it was all Sir John as they were able to stop almost every bit of pressure St. Pat’s could throw their way, though the Irish were able to break Spencer Miller’s shutout with less than a minute to go in the game.
Sir John coach Peter Curran said the Falcons’ game plan was all about puck pressure.
“We knew they had some big horses that they would bring on the rush and regroups,” he said. “We anticipated and focused on pressuring them in a few areas. Our regroup defence was forcing bad passes and they were really stepping up. With all due respect, they had a tough time getting going and we were just throwing the puck back in deep. It’s twice as hard to play in your own end.”
Curran also said he knew all it would take was to get one past Bowden and things would start to move.
“I was looking at the shots on goal and I was telling the boys to just stay with it,” he said. “We had to turn the zone time into shots on net and if we could get one (goal), we’d be getting three, maybe four. We were really owning the puck below the hash marks and it took some perfect shots to beat Jackson.”
So what does it all mean? It means Sir John Franklin retains the girls trophy and regained the boys trophy for the sweep.
Curran said there will be an added expense because of it, but he’s alright with it.
“The extra money we’re going to have to spend to get two 2023 plates for the trophies is all worth it,” he said.