(Updated 12:17 p.m. Wednesday)
They did what they had to do and thanks to a bit of help from Prince Edward Island, Team NT’s girls hockey team will get a chance to play with the big guns.
The girls defeated Yukon on Tuesday by a score of 7-1 for their second straight win at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. Taylor Catcher and Regan Bulger each had a pair of goals to lead the offensive attack for the girls while Jamie Cluff wasn’t as busy between the pipes as she has been in the first two games, facing just 13 shots. In contrast, her teammates peppered the Yukon netminder with 56.
Head coach Jessica Cox said the goal against Yukon was the same as against Newfoundland and Labrador the day before: be relentless.
“We still wanted to play shift-by-shift and win the battles,” she said. “The Yukon goalie did very well. She’s big physically so she takes up a lot of the net and we just had to be patient and find our spots.”
The game ended on a bittersweet note as Anna Lund of Yukon was taken off of the ice on a stretcher with was thought to be a suspected neck injury with 20 seconds remaining in the third period. After a discussion, it was decided that the game would end at that point.
Cox said the big positive is that it ended up being a soft tissue injury to Lund’s shoulder with no damage to the head or neck.
With Prince Edward Island beating Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday, that means Team NT will get a qualification round game against Nova Scotia on Wednesday evening at 5:30. A win in that game and they will most likely take on Quebec in the quarter-final on Thursday.
Because Nova Scotia lost all three of its games in Pool A, Team NT will get home ice advantage due to it winning two games and Cox said that will be a bigger advantage than people may think.
“Getting the last line change is big and line-matching will be a big part of our game plan,” she said. “We’re preparing for this game like we did against Newfoundland and Labrador. We had a good skate (Wednesday) morning and we’re ready.”
The squash competition continued with the team competition as Team NT’s boys and girls teams were in action. The boys took on Newfoundland and Labrador in their opening contest and matched their result from the meeting with Nova Scotia as they split the contest, 2-2 in matches. Stephen Messier of Yellowknife won his match in three straight games as did Ethan Milkowski. The girls took on B.C. in their team contest and fell in all four matches.
Archery got underway on Tuesday with the male and female solo competitions in compound and recurve bows. Katie Genge and Bailey Johnston of Yellowknife both finished at the bottom of their respective divisions in the compound division while Tayla Minute and Ferghus Rutherford-Simon were also bottom.
That doesn’t mean anything as everyone will still qualify for the elimination round following round two on Wednesday but Cynthia White, the team’s coach, said they’ve done awesome no matter what.
“We’ve had great success,” she said. “Katie set a new personal best score, Bailey came close and Tayla and Ferghus have done very well.”
Very well when you consider the Fort Smith duo are the youngest competitors in their respective events.
“Ferghus is 11 years old and is up against athletes who are as old as 20,” said White.
The competition sees each archer start in the qualification round with each competitor getting two rounds of 60 arrows each on a vertical triple-face target board. A perfect score for a round is 600 points.
Katie Genge of Yellowknife had never done 60 shots in a round before the Games; the most she had ever done before had been 30.
She said her form seems to be on with the exception of one little thing.
“I had a former national team coach tell me I was perfect except for my grip,” she said. “I’ll work to fix that before my next round but it’s just me and the target.”
Her goal for the next round is not to miss a target, something she did just once in round one.
For the archers, this is the second real competition they’ve had, the first being a competition earlier this year in Red Deer.
White said there were competition jitters for the archers but that quickly disappeared once they got out there and began shooting.
Genge said for her, the first few practice shots were among the most nerve-wracking she’s ever had.
“I was literally shaking,” she said. “Luckily, I managed to hold it together and I shot well. I’m the kind of person who if they do well in practice, I don’t do well in competition and vice versa. I’m just going in with a good attitude, be on my game and hope I can get to the finals. It’s just such an honour to be here and be part of the first NWT team for archery at the Games.”
No matter what happens, White said they’ve done themselves proud.
“I’m proud of them,” she said. “They’ve gone up against potential Olympians and national team members and have done so well. When they get to the eliminations, all they need is one good round. I’m not counting them out. They’re tenacious and they’ll do what they can.”
Victoria Hamm hit the ice for her short program in figure skating. Hamm is competing in the pre-novice girls division and sat 19 th going into the long program this evening.
The curling rinks are both still looking for their first wins of the Games. The boys, skipped by Sawer Kaeser of Fort Smith, lost their two games to Quebec and B.C. while the girls rink, skipped by Inuvik’s Tyanna Bain, also lost a pair of games to Quebec and B.C.
Cross-country skiing continue on Tuesday with the men’s and women’s sprint races. No NWT skier managed to make it to the finals but there were those who made it to the quarter-finals. Ella Kokelj and Clair Littlefair got to the second stage but could go no further while Nicolas Bennett and Donny Boake failed to make it out of their quarter-final.
Bennett said he hasn’t had the best of times at the Games and he now knows why it hasn’t gone so well.
“I’ve been at physio (since Monday) and I found out that I have a sprained ligament in my foot,” he said. “I hurt it a week ago while doing some downhill skiing and I wondered why I had that pain.”
The sprain is in the ball of his foot, he said, which can be a tough spot for a skier, especially when the 15-km classic race is coming up on Thursday.
“My coaches have been telling me to think about it because I do have nationals right around the corner,” he said. “It’s fine when I don’t put any pressure on it but it may be hard to race on it. I don’t feel any pain when I’m racing or, at least, none that I realize but when I take the skis off and put weight on the feet, that’s when it hurts.”
As for his sprint races on Tuesday, Bennett said they weren’t the greatest he’s ever had.
“I didn’t have a good quarter-final,” he said. “It wasn’t my best day and it just hasn’t been good overall. It’s not a reflection of where I am. I felt strong coming in but it’s been disappointing because all of these problems are coming at the worst possible time.”