FORT MCMURRAY – Team Alberta North won one gold and one silver medal on home ice at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games.
The Junior Female team, comprised of players born from 2003-2009, took home the gold medal after a dominating tournament. The team went 4-0-0 through the round robin portion of the competition, outscoring opponents by a total of 29-4. They would advance through the semi-finals with an 8-0 win over Alaska, which set up a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Northwest Territories to capture the gold.
“The girls came together and created a culture built on teamwork and trust. The way each one of them bought in was ultimately the reason for their success. They were relentless with their efforts all week, while still embodying the spirit of the Arctic Games in terms of sportsmanship and fair play. They are an incredibly dedicated and hard-working group of players that carried themselves as professionals both on and off the ice,” said Head Coach Hayley Runnalls. “We had an amazing week of learning from each other and I’m sure they’ve all made lasting friendships! The gold-medal game was a hard-fought battle against a strong NWT team that made winning gold on home soil, in front of their friends and family, a once-in-a-lifetime moment they will never forget!”
The U15 Male team, comprised of players born in 2007-2008, had a slow start to the tournament after dropping their first two games, picked up steam towards the end of the round robin, finishing with a 2-0-2 record. They would move on to the semi-finals, where they avenged their tournament opening loss to Nunavut and advanced to the gold medal final. In a tight, back and forth game against the Northwest Territories, they would end up on the losing side of a 6-5 decision, landing the silver medal.
"We described our players that they competed as "warriors" all week long while playing fairly and and with the spirit of the games sportsmanship in mind," said Kevin Kuryluk, head coach of the U15 Male team. "As coaches we were extremely proud of all of our players. Our message as coaches to the team before the final game was to take it all in and enjoy the moment as this is a once in a lifetime opportunty, but most importantly have fun!"
The U18 Male team, comprised of players born in 2004-2006, started off the tournament strong, landing the top overall seed after the round robin with a 3-0-1 record. They moved on to face Alaska in the semi-finals, where they dropped a heartbreaker 5-4. In the bronze medal game, the U18’s dropped another one game to the Northwest Territories and ultimately finished in fourth place.
The 2023 Arctic Winter Games were held in the region of Wood Buffalo from January 29 – February 4, with the hockey events taking place in Fort McMurray.