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Rankin’s hockey program off to torrid start due to arena delays

The start of the 2019-2020 hockey season has been a blur of activity for Rankin Inlet rec co-ordinator David Clark in his roles as head instructor for the Rankin Rock Season Opener Hockey Camp and head coach for Team Nunavut’s bantam squad for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games (AWG).

Clark’s carefully crafted schedule for both the skills-development camp and the bantam selection camp was thrown into complete disarray when the opening of Rankin’s new state-of-the-art arena was delayed due to unforeseen difficulties.

Arctic Winter Games bantam hockey coach and skills camp instructor David Clark, centre, is off to a frantic start to the new hockey season due to an unforeseen delay in the opening of the new arena in Rankin Inlet. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Clark said they ended-up starting the Rock camp on a Saturday and running through to the following Wednesday in order to give the kids more time on the ice.

He said overall the camp went well with 20 instructors helping out, ranging in age from 15 to adulthood.

“We originally had the camp scheduled for the third week in October but with the ongoing floor issues at the arena we had to, basically, keep pushing the start date back for everything,” said Clark.

“So, we finished the hockey camp on a Wednesday and two days later, on the Friday, we went right into a very busy, compact AWG tryout camp that ran until Sunday evening.

“All the players and coaches stayed together at the Simon Alaittuq School gym, and we had a very busy schedule that included lots of hockey, lots of workouts and lots of other things going on to get the most out of the players.

“At the end of the day, we picked the team we felt would give us the best chance to win.”

Clark said he has the AWG team scheduled to compete in a bantam AA tournament in Winnipeg early in the new year, and the team’s performance there will give him a much better idea as to how they will do at the AWG.

He said the Winnipeg tourney will be a huge test for the Nunavut players because the teams they’ll be competing against have been together all year and have their systems down pat.

“By the end of the tournament I’ll have a good sense of which players are going to be in which roles for us.

“That will give me time to teach the players a bit about the role they’re going to be playing, and why, in order to get everyone to buy in so, when we do go to the Games, they’ll be ready to go from the moment the puck is dropped to start game one.

“We have a young team, but it’s also a team loaded with potential.”

Clark said every year is a challenge to raise the funding necessary to keep the Rankin Rock camp going and, hopefully, grow the program and be able to take it to more Kivalliq communities.

He said he’s hoping an unique opportunity that presented itself to the camp this year will help solidify the program moving forward.

“We’re getting a professional video done about the camp that might, hopefully, help boost our future funding a bit.

“The camp is also going to be part of Hockey Day in Canada.

“The network was in town to do a story about the camp and the new arena, so everyone in the Kivalliq can keep an eye out for that during the big Hockey Day in Canada celebration in February.”