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Putting out the challenge
Whale Cove to host regional high school hockey tournament

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A new, and what could be quite important, hockey tournament is coming to Whale Cove this coming April 8 to 10.

NNSL photo/graphic

Whale Cove rec coordinator Chris Jones said the High School Hockey Challenge will be similar to the Polar Bear Plate, but without bodychecking. - NNSL file photo

Whale recreation co-ordinator Chris Jones is behind the attempt to organize the Kivalliq's first annual high school hockey tournament.

The non-contact event would feature teams comprised of both male and female bantam- to junior-aged players.

Jones said he's contacted Calm Air about offering a reduced rate for teams flying to the event.

He said the tournament would follow the Johnny Kook Memorial, and have Whale Cove hosting annual back-to-back events for the first time in recent memory.

"We're doing this mainly because Whale Cove is just too small to ice complete teams for most minor hockey tournaments like bantam and midget," said Jones.

"But we can ice a very good high school team, and the tournament could be an important one because it will fill a gap in regional hockey and allow more kids to compete in a big event.

"The athletes will have to be attending school and passing their courses to play in the tournament, and we've had a bunch of kids return to school since I announced it at the start of this semester.

"I'm hoping the same thing will happen in most of the other Kivalliq communities, which would be another big plus in getting this going and making it an annual event."

Whale has hosted big soccer events during the past two years, proving it capable of hosting a regional hockey tourney.

Jones said the High School Hockey Challenge will be a big event in Whale Cove.

He said local children and young people won't want to miss it, and that's why so many of them are back in school.

"Hopefully, they'll adjust to being back taking classes and they'll decide to stay in school after the tournament is over.

"I'd say chances are good we'll see that with kids who haven't reached Grade 12 yet because they'll want to continue playing in the event.

"We're trying to attract a team from every Kivalliq community this year.

"And, if all goes well, I should be able to get funding to help in coming years if communities like Iqaluit want to attend."

The players and coaches would stay at Inuglak School while participating in the Challenge.

Jones said he already has permission to use the school to house the players and feed them in the cafeteria during the tournament.

He said he sees the tourney being very competitive and, most importantly, a lot of fun for the players.

"I see it as being a lot like the Polar Bear Plate but without the body contact. "The kids will take a lot of pride in representing their school at this event.

"In addition to being in school and passing, the players all have to be registered with Hockey Nunavut in order to play.

"It's a true Kivalliq event this year, so we hope to have referees from Rankin Inlet come to officiate."

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