The Rankin Rock A team were deep in the hole before rising up and capturing the Powerful Peewee championship in Rankin Inlet on March 4.
The Rock lost to both Arviat and Coral Harbour in the round-robin segment of play but then defeated Arviat in semifinal action before coming back from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Coral 5-4 in a thrilling gold medal game.
Arviat captured bronze at the event.
Rock A head coach David Clark said it was quite the ride for the Rock A team to rebound from the two round-robin losses and go all the way in the playoffs.
“I credit the will to win and knowing how to play in big games, especially in front of large crowds, as two big reasons we were able to come back in this tournament,” he said. “Kivalliq hockey is high octane... In the case of our team, when you're down 4-1 in the final and come back to win it – scoring the winner while two men down – that doesn't happen by accident. There's a lot of hours and preparation that go into coaching a team, and it's nice to see it payoff in a big game like that.”
Clark said it became obvious during round-robin play that Arviat, Coral and Rankin A were playing at a higher level than Baker Lake, Naujaat and Rankin Rock B.
The tournament still featured a number of good, which made the tournament an excellent event, he said.
“The Kivallliq kids know how to play,” said Clark. “Most of them have been coming to Rankin Inlet since they were seven years old, so they know what to expect and there's no grey area with them anymore when it comes to the officials and rules of the game.”
Clark said the level of goaltending seems to be on the rise across the region and there were a couple of standout goalies at the Powerful Peewee tourney.
Clark said minor hockey across the Kivalliq features a bunch of kids who are really passionate about the game.
He said hockey has become a culture in the region and that passion and love for the game are the two biggest trademarks of Kivalliq minor hockey.