Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

KICKING OUT THE PAD – Saskatchewan goalie Joseph Young stops Manitoba forward Conner Roulette on a breakaway during the third period of the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship gold medal game Sunday at Takhini Arena.

Manitoba beats Saskatchewan for gold

The gold medal game wasn’t without controversy.

By John Tonin on May 13, 2019

The gold medal game wasn’t without controversy. The original matchup of Saskatchewan versus Alberta had to be scratched because of Alberta’s travel issues.

A release from Host Committee and the Aboriginal Sport Committee read:

“After winning their Semi-Final Saturday night, Team Alberta male earned a berth in the GoldMedal game. However, their travel plans dictated that they would be leaving Whitehorse prior to the Gold Medal game, with their flight scheduled to leave Whitehorse at 3:40 pm on Sunday.”

Team Alberta, the release said, had time to change their flight to Monday, but instead tried to change the time of the gold medal game. The proposed time change put forward to the Provincial Territorial Aboriginal Sports Bodies (PTASB) reps at a coaches meeting and it was determined the schedule would not be changed.

“As of 12 pm Sunday, Team Alberta had not made alternative transportation plans. With the Gold Medal game scheduled to start at 5:30 pm, the ASC and NAHC Working Group made the decision that Team Alberta would not be able to play in the Gold Medal game and would be removed from the tournament.”

Manitoba and British Colombia, the two teams vying for bronze, were informed during the first intermission that the winner would play for gold.

The Host Committee or the Aboriginal Sport Circle has not given further comment and Alberta is yet to release a statement.

On the ice, Manitoba showed no fatigue from their earlier game and was able to hold off a tough Saskatchewan team to win 6-1 at Takhini Arena on Sunday.

Manitoba was led on offence by Connor Roulette who netted a hat trick.

“We stayed with each other, we played out best and we came out flying,” said Roulette while draped in the Manitoba flag. “We were motivated to go out and win.”

Even though he was the lead goal scorer in the game he passed the praise to his teammates.

“I couldn’t have done it myself,” said Roulette. “I had the line that were really good. They set me up well, I had a lot of tap-ins. It was the best week of my life for sure. These guys were awesome, it wasn’t just me, it was the team.”

Roulette opened the scoring early in the first period. Jaeger Lapointe took a shot from the right face-off circle that Saskatchewan goalie, Tanner Martin, was able to save. However, the rebound laid out in front and Roulette won the battle of position with the Saskatchewan defenceman and knocked in the rebound.

The Saskatchewan crowd which had packed the stands and were being loud and boisterous had to watch as Roulette skated toward them with his hand to his ear while celebrating his goal.

It took Roulette only three minutes to find the back of the net again. Roulette took a pass from Matthew McLeod and, with speed, broke in Martin down the left side. He cut to the front and Tanner made the first save but Roulette knocked in the rebound for his second.

On the power play, Manitoba scored its third goal of the first. Jaden Pashe corralled a saucer pass from Colby Bear and shot the puck five-hole on the goalie. The second assist went to Roulette.

In the second, Saskatchewan began to find their legs and they got on the board at the 12:31 mark.

On the power play, Hunter Mayo let a slap shot fly from between the face-off circles beat Manitoba goalie, Zach Grouette, clean. The helpers went to Boston Bird and Bear Ethan.

Manitoba got the goal back near the end of the second. Pashe took a breakout feed from Matthew Mason-Wandel and sped towards the goalie, sliding past the defence and shooting the puck into the roof of the net for his second of the game.

Saskatchewan started to get heated and into their own head near the end of the second. They were yelling at the refs, to themselves, all the while breaking their sticks on the ice.

Roulette added the insurance at the 14:39 mark of the third after batting a puck out of the air past the goalie. The assists were given to McLeod and Bryden Sinclair.

On the power play and with 2:14 remaining on the clock, Sinclair added salt to the wound finding the back of the net from the slot.

As the buzzer sounded, Team Manitoba, sent their equipment flying into the air as they skated towards Grouette to celebrate.

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