Had it not been for some bad luck, there’s a very good chance we would be talking about Team NT’s boys hockey team being in with a chance to play for a playoff spot at the Canada Winter Games.
It wasn’t to be but head coach Mirsad Mujcin is treating the next two games as their own playoff round.
The boys will be facing off with Prince Edward Island later today as they begin the placement round. If they win both of their games, they will finish ninth. On the flipside, if they lose, they’ll finish 12th.
Mujcin said he wasn’t fussy who he faced.
“Either (Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador) would be fine,” he said. “P.E.I. is smaller so we’d match up a bit better with them. We played a great game against Newfoundland but we didn’t catch the breaks.”
Team NT won its final two round-robin games vs. Yukon and Nunavut but it could have easily been three wins in a row had it not been for a late Prince Edward Island goal in their round-robin meeting that condemned them to a 3-2 loss.
“We were giving it to them in the third period and we were on top of them,” said Mujcin. We had a late penalty kill and they scored on it so it just didn’t work out.”
There was even a hope that some divine intervention would see them over the top in that contest, he added.
“I was looking to Carl (Bulger) for some help,” he said with a chuckle. “In all seriousness, I gave the boys 10 minutes to reflect by themselves in the locker room and then it was time to get rid of that game and not dwell on it. We analyzed it, we refocused and got back on track.”
The boys had an off-day on Tuesday, a chance to recharge the batteries, said Mujcin, and a chance for them to take their minds off of hockey for a bit.
“They went to check out some of the venues, watch some other sports and relax a bit,” he said.
For Mujcin, this is the first time he’s had a chance to experience anything involving Team NT first-hand. He never played at either the Canada Winter Games or Arctic Winter Games and it’s been everything he thought it would be.
“No work commitments to worry about in between so that makes it easy to give my full attention to this,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of help from the parents taking the video for us so we can look at it and not have to wait for the official video. It’s a great set-up here, great people and a great experience I’ll remember for a long time.”