One of the bigger women’s hockey tournaments in the NWT made a long-awaited return this past weekend but there was a good reason for why it went away.
There was no arena to play in.
The Hazardous Women’s Hockey Tournament in Hay River returned for its 12 th edition, the first time it had been held since the town’s new arena opened up last March and the Yk Women’s Hockey League ended up on top when all was said and done on Feb. 10. Yk White defeated Yk Blue in the final by a score of 4-3.
Jeanne Yurris played on the runner-up side and said the final had the feeling of a regular league game.
“We play on Monday nights and it felt like that type of game,” she said. “We had put the teams together before the tournament and we had been playing on our teams for the last couple of weeks. We know each others games pretty well and we’re used to each others styles.”
Yk White ended up going unbeaten all the way to the title while Yk Blue suffered two defeats; in addition to the loss in the final, they were beaten by the Moosehide Mammas from Fort Simpson in the round-robin.
By the time the final rolled around, Yurris said the pressure was on both teams and while some players were nursing injuries, there was still plenty of hustle.
“Everyone was getting tired by the end but it was still a good close game and everyone was still pulling off some good moves,” she said. “For some of the ladies, they only get to play once a week and some of them play WIMPS as well but this feels like a lot of hockey for some of them. It’s a lot more ice time than just once a week.”
Yurris also said the tournament was a chance for the moms on the team to take a weekend off and enjoy the hockey but some of them brought the kids along.
“Aurora Kotokak brought her baby with her and she was great to have in the locker room,” she said. “It was so much fun to see some possible future players.”
This was the first time Yurris got to play in the tournament in Hay River and she said it was a great initiation to it all.
“Hay River is so welcoming and they’re always so excited to see us,” she said. “It’s a family reunion for some and some get to see old friends again. We had beginners playing, college and university players, Arctic Winter Games alumni. It was all about fun.”
In terms of the league in Yellowknife, the numbers have grown this season, said Yurris, with some new faces making their debut.
“I think it speaks to women’s hockey getting bigger and that’s great to see,” she said. “I heard that in Fort Smith, there’s around 70 women who play and they have four teams. More girls and women playing the sport means it’s only going to grow. We’re always looking for new players and anyone is welcome to come and give it a try.”