After Iqaluit bested Team Nunavut last December, Rankin players got their revenge in a 4-0 domination of the team from the capital to win the 2023 Polar Bear Plate Sunday, March 12.
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life, since I started playing hockey,” said Makpa Uluqsi as his team celebrated on the ice.
Defenceman Xzavier Kubluitok was excited too.
“The amount of adversity I had to go through this weekend, it’s just a pleasure winning gold and all that hard work paying off,” he said.
Kubluitok added that he had been hit in the head in the first game of the tournament and was dealing with headaches all weekend.
“This game, I just left everything behind me,” he said.
Coach David Clark said he was excited to see the tournament getting bigger and bigger.
“It just goes to show the positive impact hockey has on our community and our territory,” he said. “I’m just so thrilled for these players and so excited.”
He added a huge thank you to everyone involved in making the event happen.
“This is such a beautiful sport,” said Clark. “To see communities come together and enjoy it, what else can you ask for?”
With Iqaluit earning silver, Naujaat defeated Salliq 7-4 to collect bronze.
Before he had played a game, Salliq player Kalai Saviakjuk talked to Kivalliq News about the hockey scene in his hometown.
“We need a bigger arena,” he said. “(The players) have all kinds of styles. There’s lots of pro people.”
Gabriel Sanertanut, in the stands as a fan, said he was always at the arena because of his son being in U11 hockey.
“It’s awesome,” he said about the tournament. “We get to watch hitting, and it was fun to watch some fights too yesterday.”