Different Lac Seul team, different town and tournament, same result.
A day after Lac Seul Eagles won the Northern First Nations Hockey Tournament in Sioux Lookout for the third time in a row, another Lac Seul team played for a tournament title down the highway in Dryden.
Lac Seul Obish and the Sandy Lake Chiefs were the last two of 23 teams standing Sunday at the revived, week-long Northern Bands Hockey Tournament, which hadn’t been played for several years.
Unlike the Eagles, not all uniforms worn by Obish players matched and the team didn’t have the star offensive power their flashier hockey cousin was blessed with.
Instead, Obish relied on team defence and determination to reach the A-side final.
And once they got there, defence ruled the first period of the big game against the Chiefs, with each team held to a single goal.
Tight checking and big saves by goalies Eugene Southwind and Sandy Lake’s Brad Fiddler also dominated most of the second period.
At one point, Obish forward Mason Trout charged the net, knocking it sideways, and bowled Fiddler over. The play resulted in a major penalty and a game misconduct for Trout.
Still, the period remained scoreless until the last two minutes, when Obish centre Chris Lawson won an offensive zone faceoff back to Roy Strang and his shot from the point beat Fiddler. Elton Meekis, Sandy Lake’s captain, replied with a goal just two seconds before the buzzer, making it 2-2.
As the ice was flooded for the third period, Obish stressed sticking to their game plan: clogging up the middle of the ice by keeping four players back in the neutral zone rather than forechecking aggressively. “If we played that way, we knew they (the Chiefs) would get frustrated,” Lawson said.
It’s a strategy Lac Seul arrived at for its first knockout round game on Friday, against the high-scoring Kasabonika Flames, noted Lawson. It worked that game, a 2-1 shootout victory for Obish, and again in a 4-3 semifinal win over the Sandy Lake Riverhawks.
Sure enough, sticking to the plan, Obish held the Chiefs to just one goal in the third period of the championship game, while scoring three times themselves.
Lawson capped the 6-3 win by scoring the final goal on a breakaway deke.
He was one of three Obish players to also play for the Eagles in their victory on Saturday. Experiencing the double-championship weekend along with him were Jonathon Carpenter and Patrick Strang, who each had a goal against the Chiefs.
Jason Bull led Obish scorers in the game, with a goal and two assists. But it was a balanced Lac Seul attack, as nine different players recorded a point.
“It was all a team game,” Lawson said. “Everybody supported each other. We played with heart and determination.”
Osborn Kakepetum of the Chiefs scored twice in the losing cause, and added an assist on the goal by Meekis.
Lawson guessed he played 11 games between the two tournaments during the March break week.
“I’m just dead tired,” he said. “My body is aching, I’m worn, emotionally and physically.” In addition to all the hockey, Lawson’s father-in-law, Leo Binguis Sr., passed away the Friday night before the championship games.
Just as the Eagles did Saturday, Obish players wore black armbands for Binguis on Sunday.
“He loved hockey and he loved our Lac Seul teams,” Lawson said. “He just loved watching, loved being at the arena, the atmosphere, and he loved cheering. He also loved the Leafs.
“I know he’d want us to play. If he was here today, he would be so happy for both (Lac Seul) teams.”
Keewaywin’s father-son combo
The B- and C-side Northern Bands championship games followed the same pattern as the A-final: close for two periods before one team dominated the third.
Keewaywin Hawks jumped out to a 2-1 first period lead over the Pikangikum Moose in the B-final, but both teams went scoreless in the middle frame.
In the opening minute of the third period, however, Keewaywin forward Jordan Kakegamic scored his second goal of the game. His dad, Robbie Kakegamic, followed that up by firing a low slapshot for another Hawks goal. Jordan had the last say on the scoresheet, though, assisting on a final insurance goal by Elon Kakepetum, Keewaywin’s captain.
Goal-hungry Wolf Pack
Earlier, in the C-side final, Neskantaga Wolf Pack had youth and an extra line on their side when they faced Muskrat Dam Raiders.
After being tied 5-5 at one point in the third period, Neskantaga pulled away for a 9-6 win.
Most Wolf Pack players are 20 years old or younger, noted coach Danny Quisses. “We’ve got three veterans who are teaching the younger teammates.”
One of those veterans, captain Joey Yellowhead, showed them how to score against the Raiders, posting two goals and two assists. Jordon Sugarhead also had four points for the C-champs.
“It gives them a lot of confidence,” Quisses said of the win. “It’s been a while since we’ve won something, so this is good for them.”
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