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Mission accomplished

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ARVIAT - The final game of the recent Jon Lindell Memorial (JLM) hockey tournament will be remembered as a Kivalliq classic for a long, long time.

NNSL photo/graphic

Amaujaq Lindell and Panniuq Karetak, far right, accept the Jon Lindell Memorial trophy from Gleason Uppahuak as Tina Lindell, Nancy Karetak-Lindell and Addy-Belle Lindell, from left, look on in Arviat this past month. - photo courtesy of John Main

The Karetakers, a team comprised of family members of the event's namesake, trailed Rankin Inlet 6-5 with less than a minute to go in what had already been a thrilling game - but the best was yet to come.

With Rankin short-handed and Arviat playing with an extra attacker, Robert Karetak pounced on a loose puck after a wild scramble in front of the Rankin net and pumped home the equalizer from Jackson Lindell and Panniuq Karetak with 25 seconds left on the clock.

Both teams had their chances in overtime, with Karetakers goalie Jamie Roach making a big stop on Carlo Issaluk and Rankin goalie James Merritt robbing Amauyaq Lindell with an incredible glove save on a shot labelled for the top corner.

When Roach stopped the final Rankin shooter, Alfred Voisey, to preserve a 2-1 shootout lead, the Arviat arena turned into pure bedlam celebrating the emotional win.

Amauyaq said the championship game couldn't have been any better.

He said the Karetakers had to regroup and change things up a bit after being demolished by Rankin in their first round-robin game.

"We knew we had to work off of each other if we were going to be successful," said Amauyaq.

"Our team may not have been the most skilled, but our guys worked hard to go that extra mile for each other. We knew we were going to have to use our will to beat their skill, and that's the way it turned out.

"We worked hard with what we had and just kept believing in ourselves the whole weekend."

Amauyaq said the crowd was incredible during the final game, with the Arviat arena going totally nuts.

He said the atmosphere was electric.

"After we shook hands with the Rankin players, I just stepped back to look at all the different brothers playing on our team celebrating and that's when it really sunk in what we'd done.

"We put together our family of hockey players and accomplished what we wanted to do. We put aside our egos and worked together for each other, our parents, grandparents - our entire family. We all got together later that night and I remember somebody saying nobody can ever take this away from us, and it's something we'll still be able to share when we're all 60 years old."

Organizing committee member Gleason Uppahuak said the championship game was very emotional.

He said the committee couldn't have hoped for a better ending than this year's event provided.

"To have the Karetak-Lindell family team win it in a classic shootout like that in memory of their father or Uncle Jon was something special," said Uppahuak.

"We were happy with how the tournament went because it was better than the previous one and we're trying to improve each year.

"We see both the weaknesses and strengths of the event, and brainstorm each year to look at what we might be able to do better."

Uppahuak said the security wasn't the best at the 2011 JLM and will have to be done better in 2012.

He said the activities held during the second period intermission also have to be better planned next year.

"There's a lot of things you have to deal with to put on a successful tournament and we're still learning. This year we hired Billy Ollie and Gordy Kidlapik as tournament commissioners, rather than trying to play and run the event at the same time, and that worked really well.

"We weren't happy with the job done by some recreation staff members with arena cleanliness and keeping control of the kids.

"I had to stop one fight between kids while a staff member just stood by and watched, so we'll deal with those issues before next year."

Arviat Mayor Bob Leonard said the championship game made the tournament.

He said the emotion involved with the descendants of Jon Lindell winning in such a way was incredible.

"Everyone was just so excited when they tied the game with only 25 seconds left, and then they go on to win it in a shootout," said Leonard.

"Life just doesn't get any better than that."

Leonard said he was pleased Arviat had players on four different teams and the organizing committee let everyone play who wanted to.

He said that's more in the spirit of the event than entering an all-star team exclusive of the other players.

"I talked to a number of Arviat players and everyone had a good time, even the guys who never won a game.

"There were so many people who were either at the rink for the final game or listened to it on the radio.

"Pretty much the whole town was walking on air the next day over it."

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