Yukon 1 – Nova Scotia 12
Halifax, N.S. – Nova Scotia hockey fans jumped out of their seats and cheered like the home province had just won gold at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in women’s hockey Wednesday night inside the Metro Centre.
But there were no medals in sight during the last preliminary game of the tournament – just the happy tears of the young girls from the Yukon and the high fives and handshakes from the Nova Scotia girls who had just defeated them 12-1.
“We’re doing great!” Dana van Vliet (Haines Junction, Y.T.), the Yukon forward who got her stick on the puck and slipped it over the Nova Scotia goal line with just two seconds left in the game, said while surrounded by reporters. “We’re staying positive.”
That positivity paid off, in form of the support of absolutely everyone in the arena when van Vliet picked up a rebound after a scramble out front to score her team’s only goal of the tournament – at least so far.
“Indescribable,” van Vliet, 15, said of the moment she saw the puck go into the net. “It was a team effort. It was euphoria, pretty much.”
The Yukon has lost all of its games this week by wide margins rarely seen in hockey, including 17-0 to Quebec, 19-0 to Manitoba and 17-0 to New Brunswick.
Despite the scores, van Vliet said she and her teammates are simply thrilled to be participating in the Games.
“It’s great,” she said, an ear-to-ear grin and her eyes sparkling with pride. “I’ll look back and think, ‘did all this really happen to me’ ?”
Yukon goaltenders Jocelyn Wynnyk (Marsh Lake, Y.T.) and Maya Oakley (Haines Junction, Y.T.) faced a whopping 58 shots over the course of the game, making an impressive 46 saves total. Oakley, at just 12 years old and new to her position as netminder, was put into the game for the final two minutes of Wednesday’s game. She didn’t let a single goal into her team’s net.
Nova Scotia head coach Lesley Jordan (Westville, N.S.) said the Yukon scored its goal after skating into her team’s zone on a two-on-two, with the players from the northern territory utterly determined while digging for the puck.
Yukon defenceman Tamara Greek (Whitehorse, Y.T.) and forward Adrianne Dewhurst (Teslin, Y.T.) both touched the puck and were credited with assists on van Vliet’s crowd-pleasing goal.
Players on both benches, and fans throughout the Metro Centre, whooped and hollered as they watched the red lamp light up for the Yukon, and tears of joy streaked down the rosy cheeks of the team’s young players as the buzzer sounded on the clock.
“They’ve earned it,” Jordan said with a smile.