Well, valued readers, those of you who know me personally, or are regular readers of Kivalliq News, know I’m a huge, huge fan of the hockey played across the Kivalliq region.

And, yes, you better believe that includes my home community of Rankin Inlet.

However, thanks to officiating for more than 18 years here, it’s the game I love and the way it’s played here. I rarely ever hope one team wins over another and I never cheer openly when in the arena.

An old zebra’s habits die hard – really, really, hard.

There has only been one consistent area of Kivalliq hockey I haven’t enjoyed during my more than two decades here, and that’s the total emphasis on winning with our minor hockey teams and coaches not bothering – or caring – to teach their players to lose, and more importantly, win with class and dignity.

I’ll never forget how I felt when I was officiating at the Arctic Winter Games in Alberta and a small crowd of hockey guys – refs, coaches, managers, association reps – gathered at the lower end of the arena hallway to listen to a Nunavut coach literally screaming at his players after they blew a three-goal lead in the second period.

As the Alberta hockey guys shook their heads slowly with disgust and debated whether they should do something about it, I slowly moved back inside the official’s room and hoped they wouldn’t come in and make the connection Nunavut team, Nunavut ref.

But, of course, they did, and I spent the next half-hour dodging questions about the Nunavut coaches and answering some pretty down-and-dirty questions about how the game was played in the North.

The funny thing is, I absolutely love a great hockey rivalry.

There’s nothing in the sporting world as exciting and intense as two teams meeting each other in a playoff elimination game who truly don’t care for each other very much.

The same holds true for minor hockey but, valued readers, it’s not the same as adult hockey. It’s far from it.

In fact, the adults – whether it’s coaches, refs, parents or fans surrounding the kids’ games – are supposed to set the example to the young players on how to conduct yourself properly on and off the ice and how to win with class and lose with dignity.

And that doesn’t magically disappear or no longer matter once the kids leave the arena at the end of a tournament and return to their home community.

One of the great Kivalliq hockey rivalries is Rankin Inlet versus Coral Harbour in minor hockey, especially the bantam age bracket.

And the Rankin Rock bantam tournament was no exception when Coral and Rankin met, once again, in the recent final.

It was a tremendous, back-and-forth hockey game that either team could have won, and both teams had a number of star players who were playing that way.

You couldn’t really ask for anything more from a gold medal hockey game.

Afterward, however, when parents began grumbling about the tournament awards and posting their comments on social media – to the point where some were grumbling about which player had, or had not, their photo in the regional newspaper (that would be me) – it left a sour taste in many a mouth and sends a horrible message to the kids playing the game.

In their heart of hearts, every player on every team wants to win, no matter how much fun they’re having just playing the game.

The idea is to congratulate the losing team at the end of the tournament for how hard they played and mean it.

Please, you hockey parents out there: the next time you’re going to say or type something that will hurt the feelings of a minor hockey player, or his/her Mom or Dad, take a second to think how you would feel if it was being said about your child.

Kids look up to their parents and often mimic their actions and opinions.

How would you like your child to treat others as they make their way through minor hockey and become young adults?

Food for thought.

Join the Conversation


  1. Here’s a question for you. How would you feel if your team won and there was no team picture of the winning team? You would feel hurt and feel like you didn’t win cause your team picture isn’t in the paper. Only the opponents team is on the paper. You as a child would ask why your team isn’t even announced. You would feel it’s a brush off.

    1. Bridget: Sorry for the confusion over this, but there was an entire page in that same paper dedicated to the Coral team. It was titled The Makings of Champions and included a photo, with names, of the winning Coral bantam team, as well as Ramsey Eetuk, Prime Paniyuk and Russell Matoo receiving their individual player award trophies. The issue also featured three players from the Coral team as the players of the week.

  2. mr greer
    i fully understand win/lose with dignity … but when will rankin allow other towns to have the pleasure of hosting tournaments , we do matter and wouldnt it be win win for everyone if other communities actually hosted .
    people would like to see hockey in other towns .
    its rankin rankin rankin , that for so many years and i wonder with the new arena and all ?? … how many this year ??

  3. My family and I moved north nearly 3 years ago and before coming my sons only question was to confirm that our new home had a hockey team he could play on. We were a hockey family with 6 previous years of minor league fun loving hockey in the south with a couple pennants and first place wins and we were looking forward to a new season in a New Jersey. Our new team wasted no time in making the love of playing the game a thing of the past between the win at all costs attitude, on bench bullying and coaching staff that only care about the Arctic Games line up, my son went from die hard player to hockey hater in less than a season. It was a horrible experience and heartbreaking for both of us.

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