All three Kivalliq Jr. Canucks teams made a good showing at a Winnipeg hockey tournament March 22 to 24, but one team really outshone the competition: the peewees.
“Every game they had a mercy except one, the third game, but every other game was 8-0,” said Gleason Uppahuak, one of the team coaches.
“Even the final game, we mercy-ruled them.”
The Kivalliq Jr. Canucks atom team lost in the quarterfinals and the bantam team “had a tough loss in the final,” he said.
The other teams were mostly from Manitoba communities and reserves in the Winnipeg area.
The Kivalliq teams were handpicked by Rankin Inlet’s David Clark, said Uppahuak.
“(He) used his tournaments (in Rankin) for scouting, watching all the players to pick 15 players to come down to the native hockey tournament down here,” said Uppahuak.
Kivalliq News was unable to reach Clark by press time but in a posting on social media, Clark thanked the team’s sponsors – the Kivalliq Inuit Association, Hockey Nunavut, the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet, Calm Air and Eskimo Point Lumber Supply – and called the program a “grassroots” operation.
“Hockey is no longer a winter sport,” he wrote. “You must invest in it 12 months of the year. Training over the summer needs to be a must if our players want to keep up with the hockey world.”
He encouraged a push for more funding so the players can get more support and training.
“This is more than a hockey program,” he wrote. “This is a life-changing opportunity.”
Uppahuak said the peewee team was really happy with their win and are comfortable with the tournament now, as it’s their third year showing up.
They plan to go back next year.
“It’s a very nice tournament with great spectators, great fans and there was no issues, no trouble,” said Uppahuak. “It was professionally-run, I’d say.”