Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

SPLITTING THE D – Team North defenceman Brett Walchuk, 6, shoots five-hole on Team Ontario goalie, Aidan Tom, during second period action, of the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship round-robin Wednesday at the Takhini Arena.

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Photo by John Tonin

COVERING THE PUCK – Team North goalie Liam Tereposky covers the puck while Team Manitoba player Nathan Driver, 23, hunts for the rebound during round-robin on Tuesday at the Takhini Arena.

The male Team North downs Ontario, loses to Manitoba

With the girls' team resting after two hard-fought games on Tuesday,

By Whitehorse Star on May 9, 2019

With the girls' team resting after two hard-fought games on Tuesday, it was the boys' turn to take to the Takhini Arena ice Wednesday for two games against Ontario and Manitoba.

The team was able to overcome penalty trouble and a late surge from Ontario to defeat the country's largest province 4-3.

Before the game, there was some doubt they could topple Ontario.

"The beginning of the game there were a few jokes, let's just go out there, not get blown out," said Brett Walchuk, one of the Yukon players. "But after the first period, our hopes were high."

Team North got on the board first. Trey Beck took a pass from Ashton Underhill and broke in toward the Ontario net down the right side. From just inside the circle, Beck unleashed a wrist shot that beat the Ontario goalie high on the far side.

The lead was short-lived as Team North took their first penalty of the game. Seconds into the man advantage, Gabinien Kioki got the puck near the blue line. He walked in and sent a wrist shot under the goalie's arm to tie the game.

For a large portion of the rest of the first period, Team North spent it on the power play. Ontario took six penalties in the frame including a five-minute match penalty.

The North took advantage. After Ontario managed to clear their defensive zone, the puck was picked up by Beck, who head-manned it to Walchuk.

Walchuk sidestepped the waiting defender at the blue line and sped down the left side. He spotted his teammate Underhill crashing the net and sent a pass in front for Underhill to bang home.

On a 5-3 power play, the North got on the board again four minutes later.

Ryan Eegeesiak-McIntosh kept the puck onside and sent a wrist shot through traffic which beat the goalie high on the blocker side. The assist went to Mackenzie Shigwadja.

In the second, Team North began their parade to the penalty box, taking four penalties in the period.

Despite being a man down for almost half the period, the momentum they had gained in the first period translated to their penalty kill. Ontario had sustained offensive zone time but was unable to get quality shots on net nor make the cross-ice passes they were hunting for.

With so many penalties being taken, the game began to get chippy. After every save by either goalie, there was a scrum in front of the net with lots of pushing and shoving.

Just before the midway point of the second frame, Team North added some insurance to their lead.

On the power play, Walchuk broke in over the blue line with speed. With the puck on his forehand headed toward the defender, he quickly switched to his backhand to get past.

He quickly got the puck back onto his forehand and slide it five-hole on the goalie before crashing to the ice and into the net.

With a three-goal cushion heading into the third, Team North sat back and played solid defensively early; however, the penalty trouble continued, as the procession to the sin bin continued.

Walchuk said the penalty situation was addressed in the locker room between periods.

"It was greatly emphasized by the coaches and all the players," said Walchuk. "We really looked at that, even though we did get a couple penalties in the third.

"My defensive partner was constantly reminding me to not get in scrums because penalties were killing us," said Walchuk. "You're already playing a lot of shifts, and playing a man down is just more effort."

They managed to kill the first three penalties of the period but Ontario was tilting the momentum back to their side of the ice.

On a Team North power play, Ontario penalty killer Ethan Carlson-Jourdain stole the puck near the red-line and broke in with a North defender on his shoulder. Carlson-Jourdain was able to shake off the defence and snap a shot past the goalie for a short-handed tally.

Ontario, back on the power play, made it a one goal game off the stick of Lawrence Sai'zha Norwegian, who fired in the puck from the slot. Assists went to Carlson-Jourdain and Levi Plain.

In the waning minutes of the third, Ontario pulled the goalie for the extra attacker but was unable to capitalize.

It could be the first time Team North has beaten Ontario in the tournament, and Walchuk said it feels great to be a part of it.

"It feels unreal," said Walchuk. "Last year, I know, Ontario was playing with two teams and they still beat us. This year, with them combined as one, it feels great, especially with all three territories coming together.

"We have a great group of guys we really bonded well. We've been here about five/six days together. My D partner, he's from Nunavut, so, never talked to him before, but we ended up working out well together."

In their second game on Wednesday, Team North was on the ice against Team Manitoba.

Having played their first game of the Championship on Tuesday Manitoba showed who had the fresher legs as they downed Team North 4-1.

Team Manitoba's player of the game said it was part of their pre-game strategy to use their legs to their advantage.

"We seemed faster, moved the puck faster and did everything faster," said Kieran Cooke. "They were tired, so we moved our feet, got pucks to the net, get the goalie tired and score."

Team North's penalty troubles continued as they took to penalties early in the first frame.

Manitoba capitalized early on a goal from Conner Roulette. He unleashed a puck from the point which beat the goalie, Liam Tereposky, clean. The assists went to Bryden Sinclair and Kobe Campbell.

With the teams both at even strength, Manitoba notched their second goal of the period.

Matthew McLeod took a breakout pass from Jaeger Lapointe and skated into the offensive zone down the left side of the ice. McLeod shot the puck low along the ice which the goalie kicked out straight to Nakodan Greyeyes, who banged in the rebound.

During the second period, Team North found themselves in the box four times.

It was while shorthanded that they managed to make it a 2-1 game on a fluky goal. Even the Manitoba goalie is still wondering how it went in as it hit the end boards and ended up across the goal line.

Walchuk, who cleared his defensive zone, by icing the puck was the last Team North player to touch the puck and was awarded the unassisted goal.

Team Manitoba did not let the unlucky bounce break their momentum. They dominated the second period as they controlled on three areas of the ice.

Their efforts were awarded at the midway point of the frame as Ethan McColm let a shot go from the face-off circle which squeaked under the goalie's arm. Campbell and Jaden Pashe registered the assists.

The third period was no different as Manitoba continued to apply the pressure, if not for Tereposky standing tall in net the score could have been far greater.

The North continued to find themselves in the penalty box but Manitoba gave the odd-man advantages right back taking four penalties in the final frame.

Cooke said the team needs to be more disciplined as the tournament progresses.

"We got to take less penalties," said Cooke.

Team North could not generate any offence on the power play and with four minutes remaining in the period, Greyeyes put the game out of reach.

Alone in front of the net, he took a pass from Sinclair. Making a nifty forehand, backhand move he got the puck past Tereposky to push the lead to three and to put a cap on the scoring.

Manitoba beat Ontario on Tuesday and is the top-ranked team coming out of the round-robin.

Team North is back on the ice Thursday for a rematch against Ontario.

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