If you paid attention to Wednesday’s Yellowknifer, you will know that I will be starting a bracket competition to choose the best sports team to ever come out of the NWT. I had a bit of feedback but not a lot so because of that, here are the top eight seeds that will be competing for the title. Seends no. 9 through 16 will be published in the next edition of Yellowknifer and the tournament will start soon after that.
Here are your top eight:
No. 1 – 2014 NWT Rebels women’s broomball team
I know those of you who are in broomball will be wondering why I chose the Rebels over the Yellowknife Ravens. Yes, they both won the world championship that year but the tiebreaker is the Rebels winning Team of the Year at the 2015 Sport North Awards.
Jenny Crawford was named the tournament’s most valuable player that year and also made the tournament all-star team, as did Tina Locke-Setter.
I still say both teams should have shared the honour but since I don’t decide that, the Rebels come out on top because of that and will be your top seed.
No. 2 – 2014 Yellowknife Ravens men’s broomball team
See above only seeded second.
No. 3 – 2013-2014 Yellowknife Wolfpack peewee development hockey team
How does the Wolfpack fit in to all of this, you may ask? Easy: one of the greatest seasons ever seen by a minor hockey team representing the capital.
The Wolfpack tore up the western portion of North America, winning tournaments left, right and centre in places such as Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, California and Arizona. When they were done laying waste to whatever was in front of them, they had played 62 tournament games – 59 wins, two regulation-time losses and one shootout loss. And they still didn’t win Team of the Year.
Take a look at the names who have come from that outfit: Jack Works, Liam Tereposky, Lonan Bulger, Anna MacCara, Sam Schofield, Ethan Anstey, Annie King. The ringleader? Who else: Dan Schofield.
Impressive enough to earn the third seed in the bracket.
No. 4 – Team Galusha 2018-2019 curling rink
The first of our curling entries sees Kerry Galusha and her then-rink of Sarah Koltun, Shona Barbour and Brittany Tran do the World Curling Tour for the first time as a unit and found plenty of success that season.
They hit the pay window more than once, capped off by victory at the Royal LePage Fall Women’s Classic and becoming the first team from the North to win an international professional bonspiel. We won’t talk about how the Scotties finished up for the ladies that year but it was a banner year for the NWT and it made people really sit up and take notice.
Team Galusha is your fourth seed.
No. 5 – 1974 Yellowknife Junior Merchants softball team
As much as I wanted to seed this team first (both from a nostalgic point of view and I love softball) I have to play by my own rules.
The Merchants are the first of the national championship teams to make it into the bracket by virtue of being the very first team from North of 60 to win a national championship of any kind in any sport. They ran the table in the round-robin to advance to the playoffs but lost to Ontario in the first round, meaning they had to take the long route to win it by beating Quebec in the final, 6-5.
It was a win for the ages as the team received an honour guard upon their return to Yellowknife Airport and a parade on Franklin Ave.
Pitcher Leroy Eliason was named the tournament’s most valuable player and Greg Vaydik made the tournament’s all-star team.
Again, this is my sentimental top seed but they’re fifth for these purposes.
No. 6 – 1976 and 1977 NWT firefighters curling rink (Howard Brazeau, Dick Cisaroski, Jim Schaefer, Mickey MacEachern)
There’s a common misconception going around that the 1983 Elks Corby Cup-winning rink skipped by Klaus Schoenne won the first national curling championship for the NWT.
Wrong and the Fort Smith Fire Department will tell you why.
In 1976, the Fort Smith Fire Department represented the NWT at the Canadian Firefighters Curling Championship in Charlottetown and went on to win the whole thing. Not to be outdone, they went again in 1977 to Ottawa and won that as well, successfully defending their title. That was the first time a rink from the NWT won a national curling championship and it’s almost forgotten. What a shame because Howard Brazeau and his rink of Dick Cisaroski, Jim Schaefer and Mickey MacEachern deserve their moment.
They are your sixth seeds.
No. 7 – 1983 Elks Corby Cup champions (Klaus Schoenne, Don Sian, Doug Bothamley, Randy Waddell)
Schoenne’s rink does hold a first in curling circles and that’s the first rink from Yellowknife to win a national bonspiel.
The Elks 314 rink almost didn’t make it into the playoff round as they had to come through a five-team tiebreaker just to get the final playoff spot and move into the semifinals. After beating B.C., Schoenne and company would beat Alberta to win the title and set off some kind of excitement.
Schoenne said the other teams felt they had cheated because the championship was held in Yellowknife that year and the only way they could have won it was because of ill-gotten gains. Sticking it to sore losers is always fun.
Your seventh seeds for the bracket.
No. 8 – 2008 NWT firefighters curling rink (Steve Moss, Chris Haichert, Ingo Bauer, Kevin Whitehead)
The NWT has won the Canadian Firefighters Curling Championship three times. Brazeau won two and here’s the third.
Steve Moss and his rink of Chris Haichert, Ingo Bauer, Kevin Whitehead went to the 2008 championship in Richmond, B.C., and were the best team of the entire tournament. Yes, they won but did it in style, running the table and going undefeated. No rink from the NWT has ever done that at a national competition and that is what makes this an impressive victory.
Haichert has moved to Saskatchewan since winning the title with the NWT and won the 2019 title with his new province but he’s part of the no. 8 seed for this year’s bracket.
There you are. Your top eight seeds. As mentioned, seeds no. 9 through 16 will appear in the next edition of Yellowknifer with the bracket itself and the first match-up appearing in Friday’s Yellowknifer. Details of how you can vote for your favourite will appear in Wednesday’s edition.