Rendezvous activities were happening all over the city this past weekend with something for everyone. The athletes of Canada’s national pastime filled the arenas for the annual Rendezvous Hockey Tournament.
With 18 teams in three divisions, this year’s tournament matched last year’s for the record number of teams, increasing from 14 in previous years.
Tournament organizer Tim McClelland, in his second year organizing and his 11th as a player, said this year’s tournament ran smoothly and the tournament adds to the family aspect of Rendezvous.
“I think the biggest thing for Rendezvous it’s a family event and everybody’s happy to just come out, have some fun and play some hockey,” McClelland said following the men’s A division final at a packed Takhini Arena.
There were two men’s tournaments, an A and B division, with teams able to choose what level they wanted to compete in.
The A tournament had six teams, the B tournament with eight and the women’s tournament had four teams.
“Hockey’s all about just sharing the beautifulness of playing on the ice,” McClelland said. “It’s fast-paced, it’s fun, but at the same time there is a lot of camaraderie as well as sportsmanship.”
And this was on full display at the conclusion of the A final, the final game of the full weekend of hockey that started Friday morning.
Nuway Crushing took the A final in a tight game by a score of 4-3 over the T.A. Firth Rangers.
The Rangers took the longer route to the final, losing early to Yukon Brewing and transferring to the loser’s bracket.
They met them again Sunday morning for a spot in the final against undefeated Nuway Crushing.
With the score tied 2-2 after the first, the Rangers scored three quick goals in less than three minutes led by Clayton Thomas with two. Down 5-2, Yukon Brewing tried to get back in it with two goals but couldn’t get the fifth and tying goal before the Rangers put it away with 31 seconds left.
Nuway Crushing, with a few former Whitehorse Huskies players, went undefeated leading up to the final, but went down early against the Rangers facing a 3-0 deficit early in the second.
But the Rangers got into some penalty trouble and on the back of three consecutive power-play goals, Nuway Crushing completed the comeback with a stunning go-ahead goal with 10 seconds left in the game.
At the end of the game, the two teams and their families in attendance came together on the ice to congratulate each other as well as show their support for a member of the Whitehorse hockey community.
Longtime Whitehorse Rec Hockey League player and head coach of the peewee Mustangs team Derek Johnstone suffered a severe injury during a game last week and was taken to a hospital in B.C.
Johnstone is in stable condition, but it will be a long recovery for the hockey player.
The Rendezvous Tournament players, which Johnstone has participated in many times, wanted to send their support to Johnstone who couldn’t be there with them.
In the B division, the Bull Shooters took the trophy over McClelland’s team the Air North Jets in the final by a score of 3-1.
On the women’s side, the Yukon Selects went undefeated to victory. They only allowed three goals all tournament with goalie Brianna Hartness backstopping the team to three victories including the gold-medal game over the Gold
Diggers in a 3-0 win.
For the first time, out-of-territory players from Grande Prairie, Alberta participated in the tournament as part of the Total North team in the B division.
McClelland said the Albertans were hoping to have a full team come up but that didn’t work out so they joined Whitehorse players on the Total North squad. The team finished in third place in their division with one tournament win.
With the tournament only continuing to grow, McClelland said he definitely hopes to have the players back again next year – perhaps this time with a full team of their own.
“The more teams we have here the better,” he said.