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Road hockey draws youth
Players not bothered by cold on day before gold medal game

Shawn Giilck
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 27, 2014

There might have been no better way to prepare for the Olympic gold medal men's hockey game than at the Inuvik Youth Centre on the afternoon of Feb. 22.

nnsl photo

Walter Rogers, the drop-in supervisor at the Inuvik Youth Centre, let in this goal during a shootout a first game during centre's road hockey tournament on Feb. 22. He was pressed into service due to a shortage of goalies in the three-team tournament. - Shawn Giilck/NNSL photo

More than a dozen youth turned out for the chance to play a road hockey tournament, that venerable tradition that smacks of Canadiana, on a February afternoon that looked a lot warmer than it felt with the windchill from the slight breeze blowing.

"OK, we're playing a 15-minute game and then we'll take a break for 10 minutes to warm up," bellowed Kirt Ruben with a grin.

He's the co-ordinator at the youth centre who organized the tournament.

"No slap shots and no body contact," he added to what sounded like groans of disappointment.

The tournament got off to a bit of a late start as Ruben struggled to organize the youth, which looked a bit like trying to herd cats, and as he waited patiently for some extra players to show up. No one minded the delay, though, as they puttered around the youth centre.

"Time doesn't matter," one boy told Ruben as he announced play was going to begin and apologized for the delay.

On a day like Saturday that seemed full of endless sun and possibilities, no one was prepared to argue with him.

It didn't appear the conditions bothered the players one bit, as they were seemingly oblivious to the cold as they dashed around, frantically looking for the winning goal.

The first game went to a shootout before the Inuvik Warriors team prevailed.

As they trooped inside to warm up for a few minutes and to re-fuel, many of the players said that, not surprisingly, they were looking forward to watching the gold medal game starting at 5 a.m. on Feb. 23.

Even the prospect of the early-morning start didn't dampen their enthusiasm.

One youngster, who didn't want to give his name, said he was planning "to stay up all night and then watch the game."

"After all, it's not like I have to be to school," he added with a wicked smile.

Titus Omilgoituk said "it's pretty good to be here."

Interestingly, he said this was his first time playing in a tournament, despite the popularity of road hockey in Inuvik.

He added that it is a "pretty good way to spend the day."

Eric Francey echoed that sentiment.

"There's nothing too much better than playing outside on a day like this," he said. "And we won!"

He said he's at least a semi-regular road hockey player, but he came out because "I wanted to try playing against other people."

Eric Francey was another of the boys looking forward to the game on Sunday.

"I like the Olympics," he said, "and this is pretty fun."

Results from the tournament were not immediately available.

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