Battle of the Beaufort

IRC Native Hockey Tournament draws 14 teams from as far as Deline March 5-8

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Deline Braves goaltender Sharyn McPherson strafes over to stop a shot from K & D Outlaws centreman Curtis Germayne during the championship game March 8. In the end, the Outlaws won 5-2.

Inuvik’s Midnight Sun Complex was bustling with activity for four days as the IRC Native Hockey Tournament hit the ice at full tilt March 5-8.

In total, 14 teams from as far away as Deline came out to compete in the two-tiered battle of the Beaufort. Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort McPherson and Paulatuk— which fundraised $30,000 to get their players on the ice, sent teams for the 32nd Battle of the Beaufort Delta.

Tuk Whalers captain Carl Kuptana celebrates after scoring a goal on Paulatuk Wolverines goaltender Robert Ruben in the third period during the second day of play. The Wolverines got the upper hand early, getting ahead 4-1, but in the dying minutes of the second period the Whalers exploded, scoring six goals to win it 8-5

“The officials come up from Yellowknife through Hockey Canada,” said organizer Wilma Hendrick, who has run the tournament with her husband Donny for 22 years. “Guys just either throw a team together or they work together and enter in either division.’A’ division is more of a stronger division, whereas ‘B’ is more local teams.”

The K & D Outlaws celebrate with their families after being named the 32nd IRC Cup Champions. Team roster: James Blake, Michael Mcleod, David Mcleod, Vern Smith, Todd Glemser, Curtis German, Corey Baetz, Anthony Kinistino, James Williams, Kirk Bear, Tyler Sabourin and Joshua Cardinal.

In the end, the Tuk Bulldogs won the ‘B’ tier out of 10 teams and K & D Outlaws won the ‘A’ tier out of four.

Tuk Bulldogs captain James Keevik hoists the ‘B’ division trophy during the closing ceremonies. The Bulldogs beat out the Slyck Stars in a dramatic finish.

Hendrick estimated the arena had upwards of 550 people in it at the tournament’s peak, but the stands were packed at all hours during the non-stop hockey marathon.

LJ’s Sabres’ left winger Darby Blake squares off with Malena Selects captain Elton Ruben as Jordon McLeod drops the first puck on March 6.

Originally inspired by a similar tournament in Whitehorse, the IRC Native Hockey tournament has now posted 32 successful years. It’s been such as success its main sponsor, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation decided to begin hosting cultural showcases during the weekend.

Amber Lennie-Ipana sings the national anthem in Inuvialuktun during the opening ceremonies.

“Donny’s dad started the tournament and then he passed it over to us,” said Hendrick. “He brought a team down to the Whitehorse Native Tournament and that inspired him to get our home-grown talent going.”

Malena Selects goaltender Mitchell Jacobson reaches out of a puck as LJ’s Sabres’ player Tyrell Hope races to the net during the closing game of day two March 6.

Throughout the tournament, a buffet of country food including muktuk, whitefish, reindeer soup and chilli and moose meat stew kept people well fed. On top of that, artisans Brian Rogers, Eileen Allen, and Josephine and Darrel Nasogaluak taught workshops on jewellery making, traditional yo-yo crafting, and traditional tool making.

Josephine Nasogaluak demonstrates how to groove an ulu handle during the IRC Cup Cultural Weekend March 7.
Darrell “Lugga” Nasogaluak examines an ulu made by Kyle Ng under his guidance while Clare Schiller works on one of her own.

“This is the second or third year they’ve been hosting traditional foods and the earring beading, ulus and fish hooks,” she said. “They tie it in with the IRC Hockey.”

Eileen “Bunik” Allen assists Aurélie Noel and Alison Fine with their first foray into traditional Inuvialuit jewellery making during the IRC Cup Cultural Weekend that hosted several workshops on traditional crafts.

Hendrick expressed her thanks to the volunteers who helped keep the tournament going smoothly, as well as to the IRC and Canadian North for sponsoring the gathering.

Brian “Nungkii” Rogers, right, shows Debbie Raddi and Piers Kreps — who came all the way from Toronto for the tournament — how to make traditional Inuvialuit Yo-yos on March 7.

“We put it out there for anyone who needs hours for school or something,” added Hendrick. “They just come and volunteer and we sign them up.”

Malena Selects forward Sean Poitras races to the net with LG’s Sabres’ goaltender Jordan Nighttraveller bracing for the shot during the closing game of day two on March 6.

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