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Doing Kivalliq proud
Regional atoms put in strong showing at aboriginal tourney

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Kivalliq Junior Canucks atoms team put in a strong showing at the 29th annual Indigenous Minor Hockey Tournament in Winnipeg earlier this month.

The Junior Canucks went 2-2 at the double-elimination event, getting past Roseau River and the Waywayseecappo Warriors before losing their final two games by scores of 2-1 and 4-2 to be eliminated.

The event, which ran from April 8 to 10, is sponsored by the Manitoba Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Council and features action in the squirts, novice, atom, peewee and bantam divisions.

The Junior Canucks consisted of players from Arviat, Coral Harbour and Rankin Inlet.

Team general manager Gleason Uppahuak of Arviat said the Canucks finished fifth in the final standings at the event.

He said both he and head coach David Clark of Rankin were very proud of the effort the players put in at the event.

"We had more shots on goal than the other team in every game we played," said Uppahuak.

"We had our chances, but we just couldn't finish when we had to.

"We also hit a number of goal posts and the puck just refused to bounce our way.

"Our team was really small and really fast, and we competed very well at the tournament."

Uppahuak said there is much more to the aboriginal tournament than the game on the ice.

He said the players meet many children their own age and are always kept busy when away from the rink.

"The kids went swimming and shopping and did just about everything else in-between.

"They made a lot of new friends, many of whom they'll be able to see for the next 10 to 15 years when they play hockey in Manitoba.

"When you select only the top players to a team in an age group, they learn very fast because the pace never slows at all.

"That's not to take anything away from the other little kids who are not quite at that level yet, but, when you put all the top players from an age bracket together, both their quality of hockey and their compete level become much higher."

Uppahuak said the players from the three Kivalliq communities all got along together very well and truly bonded as a team during the tournament.

"I'd like to see this become an annual trip for the atoms, as well as the peewees and bantams in this format.

"Bringing our best players in the region together will help these kids prepare themselves for events like the Arctic Winter Games or the National Aboriginal Championship.

"It will also provide a good taste of city hockey to those players who might decide to go south and try to make AAA midget or junior teams.

"For the Junior Canucks, the plan is to continue using the Arctic Atoms tournament in Rankin Inlet to select our regional team for this event."

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