Wakeham Bay defends Toonik Tyme Cup
They came, conquered again, and took Baffin’s prized hockey trophy back to Nunavik.
They skated faster, passed better, scored one more goal than an Iqaluit all-star team, and returned home champions.
The Wakeham Bay (Kangirsujuaq) hockey team also defended their Toonik Tyme Cup championship only hours after learning that team captain Charlie Alaqu’s mother had died.
“We talked to each other and said we are going win this game tonight for his mother,” said coach Charlie Arngak, moments after watching his players hoist the coveted Toonik Tyme Cup aloft and skate around the packed Iqaluit arena.
Bested the best
To the jeers and boos of hometown fans who had hoped the Baffin Building Systems all-star team stacked with top players from the Coman Arctic Bears and other local hockey stars would keep the cup in Iqaluit this year.
“It’s beautiful, beautiful,” said Markusi Qisiiq, 21, with a broad smile and a look of wonder as he skated along the blueline, pausing to hug his fellow champions.
The teams were tied 2-2 after two periods, and in the dressing room before the third, the Kangirsujuaq players talked strategy.
“Pretty good team. Pretty tough, big guys,” said Qisiiq.
“Our team has good teamwork,” said Tumasi Kiatianaq, 26. “Those guys are big guys but we got good speed.”
The players talked about “going upstairs” on goalie Randy Qammaniq, who they said goes down a lot.
But Qammaniq, down or not, had to make some spectacular saves to keep the relentless Kangirsujuaq forwards from filling the net with pucks.
BBS player Eric Galien says the Kangirsujuaq players were “tough and fast.”
“Hard game. Very fast game,” Galien said gasping for air between shifts down by two goals with time running out in the third period.
“They play well, they have good team spirit. They play all together. But we can beat this team,” Galien said.
Then teammate Todd Gardner took a pass from Brian Twerdin in the slot and scored with 4:12 left to play in the third period, bringing his team to within one.
“Just a one-timer. I didn’t even see where it went until the guys put their sticks up,” Gardner said from the bench after scoring the big goal.
But when the BBS coaches pulled their goalie, the northern Quebec squad won the draw and scored an empty net goal making it 5-3.
Lodi Ipellie scored with no time left on the clock to bring the BBS team to within one but it was too little and far too late.
“They did very good this year. I hope they will do it again next time,” said coach Arngak.
Kangirsujuaq won the Ungava Cup two weeks ago, defeating the top teams from across Nunavik.
The team from Pangnirtung, which finished second behind Kangirsujuaq last year, had to settle for the bronze this year after easily crushing the Legion Leafs.
The Legion team had won the men’s regular season, the playoffs, and had hoped for the elusive triple crown of Iqaluit hockey by winning Toonik Tyme.
But the Legion team was bounced by BBS in semi-final action.