Hockey: NWT bantam boys trounce Yukon 7 - 4

Lead by AWG veteran Curtis German, the NWT bantam boys hockey gets off to a roaring start.
Bantam Boys

In their first round robin game, the NWT Bantam Boys (white) team shut down their Yukon (black) rivals 7 to 4. Arctic Winter Games veteran Curtis German was NWT's MVP for the game.

The Northwest Territories bantam boys hockey team got off to a good start at the Arctic Winter Games Sunday in Whitehorse, defeating their Yukon rivals 7-4 in the first game of round-robin play.

The NWT team, comprised almost entirely of AWG rookies, came out of the first period with a hefty 5-1 lead.

The second period was fraught with penalties, four to NWT and three to Yukon. Yukon turned up the heat in their first powerplay, scoring their second of the game. It was followed by a strong push by NWT who had a number of great chances, but seemed to have lost some of their steam.

The final period was also a bit messy, with three penalties to NWT and four to Yukon, including a bone-rattling hit to the head delivered by Yukon’s Marcus McLeod that resulted in four-on-four action.

With their lead still very much intact, NWT rested on its laurels and took another penalty with just over six minutes to go. A huge save by the NWT goalie kept the puck out of the net but it wasn’t long before Yukon put away two goals in quick succession.

In the end, NWT's lead held out, but the team's MVP for the game wasn't shy about admitting they could do better.

"I think it went pretty well. We got started pretty early there, and got a lot of goals there in the first, but I think we kind of dropped the ball there in the third period. We got a bit lazy," said the team’s only returning player, 14-year-old Curtis German of Yellowknife.

"You know, I think guys were just standing around there. The score was on our side, so we just stood around and they got a few goals on us," German said.

As a start to the tournament play, however, German didn't have many complaints

"It's always good to get a win in the first game and build some momentum going into the rest of the tournament," he said.

NWT coach Brad Meuller also admitted there were a few lessons to learn going forward despite the win.

"Obviously we have to address some issues, but you don't want to kill their spirits. You just take the flame that they lit there today and feed it. They're really excited for the rest of the games."

Meuller said it's been a bit difficult getting ready for the Games because the team is so new and the players are divided between Yellowknife and Hay River.

"We only have one returning player, Curtis, who participated in the Arctic Winter Games two years ago. There's a split between Hay River and Yellowknife, so we got together a couple times over the season for some practices and scrimmages over the three days prior to departure. We did some team building things and the boys came together really well as a team, which they just showed out there today," Meuller said.

Meuller said he was glad to face the Yukon team first, because they've proven to be a serious challenge in the past.

"We kind of looked at this game like it was going to be a good matchup for us. Historically NWT and the Yukon have gone head to head, and we had no idea what to expect. We were just worried about ourselves there and it worked out the way we wanted it to."

Hockey action continues Monday when the bantam boys and midget girls will both face off against Team Alberta North.