The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Membertou, N.S., are over for 2022 and that means Team North’s adventure has come to an end.
May 14 was the final day of action as the medals were handed out but for Team North, the preceding day was where their tournament came to an end with two games in the placement round versus Manitoba and Team Atlantic. Fifth place was the best the boys could do but they would end up finishing sixth as they were on the wrong end of an 8-3 decision to Manitoba but came back to outgun Team Atlantic in a truly defensive struggle, 11-7.
The Yellowknife duo of McKinley Talbot and Emmery Golchert each had a pair of goals in that final contest while Crew True-Jewell chipped in with three assists.
The boys began back on May 9 in the round-robin and finished with a record of two wins and two losses, the victories coming at the expense of B.C and Team Atlantic. That was good enough to get them into the playoffs and a rematch with B.C. with a place in the medal round on the line.
It didn’t happen as they ended up losing the second encounter, 7-5, putting them in the placement round.
Owen Pettipas, one of Team North’s goaltenders, said it was a tough pill to swallow.
“We get a win and we’re in the semifinals and playing for a medal,” he said. “That hurts a bit more than any of the other losses. We beat them already but we had a bad turn of events and it’s disappointing, for sure.”
Even more so when you consider Eastern Door and the North (Quebec) pulled off perhaps the shock of the tournament by beating Manitoba in their playoff match-up, 4-2.
Ontario went on to beat Saskatchewan for the title while B.C. took home bronze with a win over Eastern Door and the North.
This year’s staging of the championships was the first since the 2019 edition, which was also held in Membertou. Team North’s participation was doubtful following that year due to the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT, the group that looked after all of the program’s operations, decided to step away in July 2019. This year’s Team North was put together through the work of Hockey North and Ryan St. John of Arviat, who served as the team’s manager.
Pettipas is still eligible for next year’s tournament as he hasn’t yet aged out and he said he’s looking forward to getting another crack.
“I hope we can do a bit better next year,” he said. “It was good to get those wins and I’m hoping we can go for a medal.”
Talbot played in his first and only championships this year and he said it was everything he thought it would be.
“We (did) a lot better than we set out to do,” he said. “The first game, we were getting used to each other but we got along pretty quick and got into the groove.”