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Cleaning their plate
Repulse nips Iqaluit 8-6 for second title in past three years

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Repulse Bay captured its third major Kivalliq hockey title in the past two years by claiming the 2014 Polar Bear Plate juvenile-junior championship in Rankin Inlet earlier this month.

Teams from Repulse also claimed the 2012 Sakku First Aviation Avataq Cup and Polar Bear Plate titles.

Repulse defeated Iqaluit 8-6 to claim this year's Cup.

The Team Nunavut Arctic Winter Games midget squad spanked Arviat 9-2 to claim bronze.

The Rankin Canucks, Rankin Rock midgets, Coral Harbour, Chesterfield Inlet and a combined Whale Cove-Baker Lake squad also competed at this year's Plate.

After Iqaluit's Johnny Kilabuk opened the scoring, Repulse jumped to a 4-1 lead in the title game on the strength of two-goal efforts by Jeff Siusangnark and Joey Nuluk, before Matthew Gardner drew Iqaluit to within two at the end of the opening frame.

Perry Akavak and Philip Verreault knotted the score at four by the mid-way point of the second period, before Nuluk struck for two more and Siusangnark another to pull Repulse ahead for good by a 7-4 count at the end of the second.

Alex Suvega and Verreault with his second rounded-out Iqaluit's scoring in the third period, while Kevin Malliki replied for Repulse.

Both Nuluk and Siusangnark added solo assists to their scoring heroics to bring their championship performance to five and four points, respectively.

Maxwell Shoo and Jordan Akavak led the way with two goals apiece in Team Nunavut's bronze victory, with Mitchell Courtney, KJ Putulik, Aiden Saviakjuk, Westley Siutinuar and Maneul Ukutak adding single markers.

Joe Jr. Karetak had both goals for Arviat.

Coral Harbour had the distinction of being this year's hard luck entry.

Coral conceded the final playoff spot to Arviat in a round-robin shootout in which it led 2-0 after the first three shooters had gone.

David Clark organized the Polar Bear Plate again this year, and said he was very happy with the way the tournament went.

He said Iqaluit were just able to land before the bad weather hit Rankin, ensuring all nine teams would take to the ice.

"The tournament was a big success and we had huge crowds at the arena during the entire weekend," said Clark.

"We had really good play and officiating this year, so there was no garbage going on out on the ice.

"It was just really good hockey for the most part."

"This year's Plate had good entertainment value and most of the fans went home happy."

Clark said he wasn't surprised the Team Nunavut midgets came so close to making the finals.

The midgets led Iqaluit 6-4 with less than 15 minutes to play in the semifinal before Iqaluit stormed back with four answered goals.

"I could see early in the tournament the midgets were going to be in the mix," said Clark.

"They're talented and well-coached, and they can play with almost any team if they concentrate on playing hockey."

Clark said you have to tip your hat to Repulse Bay for winning two of the past three Polar Bear Plate titles.

He's said it's pretty incredible how such a small hamlet can consistently churn out such good hockey teams.

"The Repulse players have a lot of skill and they play their own style.

"That style, being so wide-open, would probably give a lot of coaches grey hair, but they seem to be very successful with it.

"They know how to play together, they move the puck extremely well and they can really, really skate.

"Team speed is the biggest thing with Repulse because they often out-skate other teams even with a short bench."

Clark said another Repulse strength is the players rarely argue with the refs or let things bother them.

He said they keep playing their game, and part of their ability to do that comes from coach Aaron Kopak.

"I played with, and against, Aaron many times, and he's a wonderful hockey player who seems to be running a very good program in Repulse.

"We owe thanks to a lot of people for having such a good tournament this year, including the referees, all our sponsors, Calm Air, the Rankin Inlet junior 'C' program, the hamlet and Hockey Nunavut.

"The ambulance crews also deserve a big thanks for volunteering their time to be at the arena the entire weekend, David Ningeongan for broadcasting the games on radio, Cedric Autut for playing the arena music and doing most of the announcing, and the guys who worked the score clock and penalty box.

"You need a lot of moving parts for a tournament to work so well and, when they line up, it's a beautiful thing."

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