You may have been driving on Kam Lake Rd. this past weekend and wondered why the parking lot at the Multiplex was so full.
That’s because there was an actual hockey tournament actually happening inside.
The Yk Oldtimers Hockey League was the host organization and they called it the Wrap-Up Tournament, which ended on Sunday with the championship games in each division. All of the league’s teams were involved along with players from the Yk Robins women’s league.
Conan Donahue, president of the oldtimers league, said the tournament was an extension of the season and a nice way to finish things off.
“I think everyone was happy to be out and have a way to put a wrap on it,” he said.
The A division final featured the HBC Havoc, the team formerly known as the Ol’ Packers, taking on the DCL Jets. Unlike regular finals with just one game to determine the champs, this was a two-game, total goals contest. The first game was played on Sunday morning with the Havoc coming out on top by a score of 4-1.
That meant the Jets had to win the second game by at least three goals to force bonus hockey or win by at least four to win it outright. Neither of those scenarios happened as the Havoc managed to take game two by a count of 5-2 to secure the title.
Ryan Nichols of the Havoc said the scores of both contests didn’t reflect the type of games they were.
“They’ve got a good bunch and we were lucky to get out of the gate quickly in both games,” he said. “We knew they were going to press us right off the bat in the second game but we got off to a good start and held on from there.”
Having a three-goal advantage to carry into the second game made a bit easier to prepare for what was to come, he added.
“We had to weather the early storm but having a cushion helps,” he said.
The B division was a battle between Kavanaugh and the Cold Cash Greenbacks and unlike the A division, this was a one-and-done contest but it went to bonus hockey as regulation time solved nothing, ending in a 2-2 tie.
That meant a best-of-three shootout and it would be Curtis Gibeau of the Greenbacks who would play the hero’s role as he potted the winner with the final shot of the game to give his side a 3-2 win.
In the C division, Ron’s Auto reigned supreme over Bassett Petroleum as they won that title affair, 5-2. It was a reversal of fortunes as Bassett had gotten the better of Ron’s during the round-robin portion of the tournament earlier in the week.
Ron’s came out the better of the two teams in the early going, jumping out to a 3-0 lead, and Gord Gibeault, Ron’s captain, said that was a big confidence boost for them.
“That got us going,” he said. “Having them chase us is a lot better than us chasing them.”
Dave Earle stood tall for Ron’s between the pipes, coming up with several timely saves, and Gibeault said Earle was the difference.
“He was our player of the game,” he said. “Solid all game long and he held us in there. He made our jobs a lot easier out there.”
The Over-45 division featured a mixture of male and female players with enough bodies to make up five teams.
This is the final piece of business for adult hockey in Yellowknife for this season and the fact that there was a tournament to play was a sense of pride for Gibeault.
“I think everyone was proud of that, being able to play in a tournament,” he said. “There aren’t many leagues or places around Canada that were able to play and we all recognize that. We were lucky to be able to do so.”
Donahue said being able to play the tournament was all because of the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.
“The things (Dr. Kami Kandola) put in place allowed for that to happen,” he said. “We stuck to our 15-minute time frame in between games and the rules around the dressing room because if we didn’t, it would have ruined it for not only us but everyone else.”
Something else which was notable for the weekend was fans in the stands. Each rink – the Shorty Brown Arena and Ed Jeske Oympic Arena – was allowed up to 25 fans to watch each game.
“It was great to have our kids watching us there,” said Nichols. “They weren’t able to watch us at all this season and having them there was a nice way to cap things off.”
Donahue said the application to Protect NWT was an 11th-hour decision.
“The women had a tournament the weekend before and they were able to have some fans to watch,” he said. “We put in our application on the Tuesday morning before the tournament to have fans and we got the approval (later) that afternoon.”