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Atom blast in Churchill

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Arviat (Mar 16/05) - The Arviat Blizzard stormed back from a tough start to take silver at the fourth annual Kelsey Brew memorial atom tournament in Churchill, Man., this past month.

The event also featured teams from Thompson and Gillam.

It was the second year in a row Arviat left Churchill with a medal, having won bronze in the 2004 event.

This year's team had 12 male and five female players, and was co-coached by Alex Ishalook and Peter Shamee.

Team manager Graham Gavin says a number of Arviat players had never participated in a tournament before the Churchill event.

"Many of our players are first-time atoms who had never really played any organized games with certified officials before this tournament," says Gavin.

"They enjoyed playing in real games."

Arviat went 1-2 in the round robin - defeating Churchill, but losing to Gillam and Thompson.

The Blizzard then upset Thompson in the semi-final before falling to Gillam in the championship game.

Gavin says the Arviat players continued to improve as the tournament progressed.

"You could see them learning more each game.

"Not only did we beat Thompson after losing to them in the round robin, but Gillam only beat us 5-1 in the final after thumping us pretty good in the preliminary round."

Gavin says the Churchill community treats the Arviat atoms well at the event. He says the tourney is important to their development because they see such little action at home.

"Atom tournaments in Nunavut are few and far between, so you have to find other places to compete. We're trying to hold a tournament in Arviat from April 1-3, with two home teams and Rankin competing."

Gavin says there are about 100 minor hockey players registered in Arviat this year, including about 35 girls.

He says a number of people deserve praise for helping out this year.

"Jenny Kalluak was instrumental in organizing our travel and helping with our fundraising efforts. We had a lot of help from the parents this year and a number of them even made the trip with us. That really helped us chaperon the kids, and it was nice having our own cheering section at the games."