Banner season for Rankin bantams

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The Rankin Rock bantam team romped through the Toonyk Time minor hockey tournament with an undefeated record to cap a perfect season in Iqaluit on April 21.

The 2019 Toonyk Tyme minor hockey bantam champion Rankin Rock are, back row from left, David Clark (coach), Alexander Angalik, Garren Voisey, Malla Ittinuar, Kobe Tanuyak, Owen Connelly-Clark, Brady Tucktoo, Gregory Wiseman, Simon Wiseman, Charlotte Siksik and Graham (Bubsy) Kusugak (assistant coach), and middle row from left, Kadin Eetuk, koby Connelly, Terence Pilakapsi, Justin Towtongie, Maximus Ammaq and Thayer Komakjuak and front from left, Sandy Tattuinee and Tucker St. John at Iqaluit on April 21, 2019. Photo courtesy Rankin Rock
The 2019 Toonyk Tyme minor hockey bantam champion Rankin Rock are, back row from left, David Clark (coach), Alexander Angalik, Garren Voisey, Malla Ittinuar, Kobe Tanuyak, Owen Connelly-Clark, Brady Tucktoo, Gregory Wiseman, Simon Wiseman, Charlotte Siksik and Graham (Bubsy) Kusugak (assistant coach), and middle row from left, Kadin Eetuk, koby Connelly, Terence Pilakapsi, Justin Towtongie, Maximus Ammaq and Thayer Komakjuak and front from left, Sandy Tattuinee and Tucker St. John at Iqaluit on April 21, 2019.
Photo courtesy Rankin Rock

The Rock bantams won all four tournaments they entered this season, taking the championship banner in the Rankin Rock bantam tournament in Rankin, Nunavut’s bantam territorial championship, Toonyk Tyme and the Winnipeg Jets Challenge in Manitoba.

Head coach David Clark said although this was the Rock’s second straight bantam title in Iqaluit, most of the players on this year’s team were different than the squad that captured it the previous year.

He said there were only three players who were on both championship teams.

“Iqaluit had a good midget team this year, but their bantams were not up to our level,” said Clark.

“It’s one of those things where the cycles often go up and down in small towns with minor hockey programs.

“It’s quite difficult, if not impossible, to have a competitive team in every age group year after year.

“We never really had any close games in Iqaluit, but the boys had a good time and it was a good way to end a successful season.”

In fact, when the final siren sounded to end the Rankin bantams’ season, the team couldn’t have asked for a more successful campaign, which was as close to perfection as you can get.

Clark said there were some Rankin bantams who played on the Junior Kivalliq Canucks regional team that the lost the final game of the (Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre) MICEC Annual Indigenous Minor Hockey Tournament in Winnipeg.

He said you learn a lot as a player when you win, but you also learn a lot, if not more, when you lose.

“I preached discipline and teamwork to these guys all year. The coaching staff and players put so much work into it and, for everything to come together the way it did, it was a nice feeling.

“We had six or eight players on the regional team, and that was their one loss this year and I know it stung.

“It’s still with them today because they talk about it more than the four tournaments they won.”

Clark said the young players this year put-in the hard work that’s necessary to have such a successful season.

He said they showed-up ready to work hard and learn at every single practice throughout the season.

“We set the tone at the beginning of the year and the kids bought-into it right from the start.

“At the end of the day, they’re a great group of kids to coach and they always put their work ethic first.

“That’s, really, all you can ask for as a coach.”