Photo courtesy Nangmalik Wiseman
Spring Festival on Ice Tier 1 champion Rankin Rock peewee A team are, back row from left, Steve Sayles (coach), Dave Wiseman (coach) Luke Siksik, Gregory Wiseman, Liam Tattuinee, Darren Jr. Ikakhik, Preston Kaludjak, Seth Hamilton, Kadin Eetuk, Guili Issakiark, Kalluk Burton, Payton Kabluitok, Simon Wiseman (asstant coach), and, front from left, Michelle Okpatauyak, Ben Kusugak, Kylan Saviakjuk, Inuk Kowmuk, Ben Tulugak and Mia Autut in Edmonton, Alta., on March 31, 2019.

The Rankin Rock peewee A team defeated Yellowknife 4-2 in the final game to sweep to the Tier 1 championship of the annual Spring Festival on Ice hockey tournament in Edmonton from March 25 to 31.
The Rock’s peewee B team also competed at the event, which served as the backdrop for a travel experience none of the Rock players, coaches or parents on the trip will soon forget.
Spring Festival on Ice features 20 teams in each of the novice, atoms and peewee divisions.
Rock A head coach Dave Wiseman said the team’s performance in Edmonton further illustrates how far the hockey program in Rankin Inlet has progressed during the past decade.
He said the Rock A team going 4-1 to claim the Tier 1 banner at a peewee AA tournament is no small feat.
“We were basically outworked in the one game we lost and I can honestly say you don’t see that very often,” said Wiseman.
“Our players were respectful to their opposition during the event and didn’t retaliate anytime the sledding got a little rough, but we did take an awful lot of penalties during the tournament and spent a lot of time playing a man (or more) down.
“We were very, very disappointed to have had racist remarks hurled in our direction during the event, but I honestly don’t want that to be the story and take away from all we accomplished.
“That’s a conversation for another day.”
Wiseman said the tournament was an incredible experience for players on the Rock B team who developed a warm relationship with players on the Valleyview Icebears squad.
He said the players on the two teams appeared to all be best friends, sisters and brothers during the event, and he has little doubt many of the friendships forged during the tournament between the two sides will last a long time.
“We also got to watch a private practice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers while we were there, and all the players got to meet Kevin Lowe.
“He (Lowe) did a lot of photos with the kids and signed an awful lot of autographs for them.
“We also visited the Oilers Hall of Fame, went to an NHL game and visited Wayne Gretzky’s amazing restaurant, Studio 99.”
Hockey mom and tireless volunteer, fundraiser and trip organizer Rachel Verbeek of Rankin Inlet said it took about a month to arrange a visit with the Oilers – much faster than she expected.
“They had gift bags, team towels and signed photos from Connor McDavid for all the kids, and they offered us a smoking deal on attending one of the Oilers games,” said Verbeek.
“At the game, they put our kids on the Jumbotron and did a shout-out to Rankin Inlet.”
Wiseman said the Rock’s 5-4 win over the host squad and defending champion KC Knights in triple overtime was the most amazing game of the tournament for the Rock.
He said he couldn’t ask for much better to bring down the curtain on his minor hockey coaching stint.
“Seeing the looks of joy on their faces, and hearing their laughter during so many of the activities, made all the time and hard work that went into making this trip a reality more than worthwhile,” said Verbeek.


Darrell Greer

Darrell Greer is Editor of Kivalliq News