When the puck drops to begin play March 15–19, it will have been four long years since the Terence Tootoo Memorial (TTM) Cup senior men’s hockey tournament was held in Rankin Inlet thanks to Covid-19.
But that hasn’t quelled the fire in Jason Todd’s belly to successfully defend his team’s B Division title one little bit.
Team Todd has been suiting up for the tourney — originally known as the Sakku First Avataq Cup — for about 20 years and the team’s first championship was a long time in coming. In fact, wins of any kind were hard to come by for Team Todd during that time.
He said winning the B Division championship was the “best feeling” after entering a team year after year and only ever winning a game or two over that time.
He said the decision to create separate A and B divisions made the tournament better and more competitive for every team from across the Kivalliq and (almost always) Iqaluit.
“People came out to watch both divisions and cheered on all the teams,” said Todd. “I entered teams over the years because a lot of young players were being left out of a locally-hosted tourney and I felt that wasn’t right.
“I believed, and still believe, local lads should be allowed to play, not just a select few. I believe in the underdog and will always compete against the better teams in life.
“I love my people of Rankin Inlet and the Kivalliq. All of them, not just some. So, I suppose, that’s why I always felt I had to dress a team for the Avataq Cup and the TTM.”
Todd said his squad has some players back who have always played with Team Todd, but there are also a few who have retired from playing since 2019’s championship.
He said he would love to have all of them still around to help defend the title.
“I’ve stepped away from dealing with the roster because I tend to say yes to everyone who asks and we end-up with 25 players on the roster,” said Todd with a hearty laugh. “We need to run a roster of 15, but I hate saying no to younger players who ask. I’d make two teams if I was allowed.”
Now 51 years old entering the 2023 TTM, Todd still gets excited to play in the tournament. He came up from Leduc, Alta., where he now resides, to play in the 2019 tourney.
Todd said Rankin is Nunavut’s Hockeyville and he loves playing in front of his hometown.
He said he may retire after this tourney and just sponsor a team. But, then again, he may also move back home to Rankin in 2024 and suit-up once again.
“I may stay longer this year if work lets me, so I can play for a Rankin team in the Kivalliq Cup (old-timers) the following weekend.
“I’ve never played in the new arena and I’m truly looking forward to it. The atmosphere in Rankin for hockey is always the best because we have so many great spectators.
“I always enjoy playing hockey with my brothers from home. It was even more fun when it went to a B division because all the teams were somewhat equal and played hard against each other.
“I thank all the lads for coming out to play over the past 20 years, Silu Autut for helping make the team the past couple of years and all the fans who have cheered us on.”