For a team that was simply hoping to score a few points here and there at the Canada Winter Games, this result must have felt like a lump of gold.
The boys table tennis squad opened up the team competition of the Games against Yukon on Saturday morning and ended up coming out on top by a score of 3-1 in matches. David Dragon of Yellowknife ended up winning the third match for Team NT as he beat his Yukon opponent in straight sets.
“It feels great,” said Dragon after the win. “I lost the doubles match but my singles went a lot better.”
Indeed, the doubles tandem of Dragon and Conner McKay-Ivanko of Hay River ended up on the wrong end of that decision, dropping the opening contest in four sets. McKay-Ivanko rebounded to win his singles match while Nikhilesh Gohil of Yellowknife was a winner as well in four sets with Dragon putting the final nail in the coffin thanks to his win.
Dragon said he had an idea of what he would be up against when it came to playing Yukon as the team went to Whitehorse earlier this year for a training camp with that territory’s Games squad.
“I knew what their strategies were going to be and I knew a bit of how they would play,” he said. “I was surprised I won the match in straight sets.”
They were set to take on Nunavut later this afternoon in their final group match-up.
Thorsten Gohl, the team’s head coach, was just as excited about the team’s win.
“It was a super atmosphere and they all played great,” he said. “It’s amazing for them to be here and the team is soaking everything up.”
The girls opened up team play this morning against Nova Scotia and fell in three straight matches. Monika Kunderlik of Yellowknife and Shannan Bonnetrouge lost their doubles contest with Gracie Brennan of Yellowknife and Kunderlik both losing their singles matches.
The boys hockey team was also in action on day one as they took on Newfoundland and Labrador in their opening round-robin contest. It started out well enough as the boys jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Newfoundland and Labrador came on too strong and was a bit too much for the boys in the second half of the game as they skated away with a 5-3 win.
Head coach Mirsad Mujcin said the opening part of the game went as well as it could have.
“Our power-play was clicking and they came out strong,” he said. “We just made a couple of mistakes and that’s because they’ve had a couple of long days with flying in and the opening ceremony the night before. We’re not dwelling on it and we know what we have to do to fix it.”
An already tough job for the boys was made even tougher when Jonah Bevington was given the gate for a check from behind in the first period.
“He’s a talented player and an essential part of our offence so losing him early was tough,” said Mujcin. “The other guys on the bench stepped up and adapted to the situation and I thought they pushed through it great.”
The boys have Prince Edward Island tomorrow morning and Mujcin said one thing that has to change for that contest is to get rid of the “small-town hockey” mentality.
“When fatigue sets in, you resort to the old habits and that’s what I mean when I say that,” he said. “We’re going to look at the film, assess it and make the adjustments we need to. It’s all a part of the game and mistakes are going to happen because they’re at the developmental stage but we’ll be ready for P.E.I.”
Logan Cunningham had two goals in the losing effort while Sam Schofield added the other marker. Ethan Anstey had two assists.