So, some of the scorelines involving Team NWT during week one of the Canada Summer Games didn’t exactly match the sport in which they were playing.

We knew that going in. No illusions of grandeur were on the cards at any time. An upset would have been more than icing on the cake, but it didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean it was a complete and total loss. Far from it.

Take the boys basketball team, for example. They ended up leaving Winterpeg with a win over Yukon on Aug. 3, 84-68. Whenever these two meet, it’s always the unofficial Northern gold medal game. But more than anything, it’s the one game you want – no, need – to win. You don’t want to leave the Canada Summer Games winless, especially knowing you lost to your Northern counterparts.

Don’t think for a second those boys didn’t know that and don’t think head coach Aaron Wells didn’t impart that to them. He described the game as a grudge match, even though they hadn’t played each other up to that point.

You don’t have to have played against one another in the same tournament. It’s NWT vs. Yukon. It’s a grudge match no matter the sport and no matter the situation. And we won it this time. Huzzah.

Makes the Gatorade go down smoother in the locker room afterward, doesn’t it?

One thing that may have gotten lost in the whole thing was the performance of Patrick Yatco in that game. Yatco dropped 31 points on Yukon, a mere two short of tying the Canada Summer Games record for points in a game.

In talking with a few people about what the athletes should get out of these Games, I have told them they should be playing for college scouts. Let the big teams play for Olympic or professional aspirations. We should be playing for scholarships and if Yatco’s output didn’t turn a head or three, what will?

The girls soccer team, meanwhile, had a rougher go of it and it didn’t help they played Ontario right out of the gate. If this had been a betting line in Vegas, you would have lost money betting on Ontario.

The final score only went to show how dominant Ontario was, but 16-0? Was that necessary? You’re up 8-0 at halftime. I don’t think our girls had eight goals in them to come back. I’m not saying it wasn’t impossible, but … O.K. It was kind of impossible. They showed us, didn’t they? I’m not going to re-hash the pool system idea because that was my rant last week, but it needs to get picked up. Fast.

The girls also played Yukon in the inevitable Northern clash and, unlike the boys, the girls came out with the short end of the stick, but we scored the only goal of the game. Into our own net. I know coach Mike Doyle was having some fun when he told me that Yukon has beaten us in the past two meetings and they haven’t scored against us to do it. We’ve scored all three of Yukon’s goals. Listen, when you can’t win, you have to try and find the lighter side of it all. Crack a joke about it because laughter makes everything good.

Track and field was tough because we had a small team. Lance Dizon was the Yellowknife hopeful and he was always going to be in tough racing the 100-metre and 200-metre. Those are the glamour events of track and field and you have the creme de la milk racing at the Canada Summer Games, some as old as 22. Dizon went into Winnipeg with a nagging groin injury, something he told me about a couple of weeks back. He got cleared to race by the track-side physio staff, but I wonder: if Dizon had a good groin, 100 per cent and fit, might he have shaved off a couple of tenths off his time? In the world of track and field, you find out exactly how much of a difference tenths of a second can make.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Joe Leblanc is officially off the clock as head coach of NWT Track. Winnipeg was his last official bit for Queen and Country and it’s a bit sad to watch him leave. Leblanc was one of the most honest and straight-forward coaches I have ever dealt with and while his shoes will get filled, it won’t be the same.

And so, we’re well into week two now. More teams, more athletes, more results and the hope of more wins. It won’t define us if there are no wins, but it would do wonders for the ol’ confidence meter. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s icing with my name on it …

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...