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Fort Simpson tourney competition fierce
Fort Providence Bulls make it to finals with only seven players

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Fort Providence Bulls have proven that they don't give up easily.

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Adrien Tremblay, right, of the Nahanni Inn Flyers and Richard Johnstone of the Fort Providence Bulls race after the puck during a round robin game at the Fort Simpson Men's Rec Hockey Tournament on Saturday. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The Bulls were one of five teams competing in the Fort Simpson Men's Rec Hockey Tournament from Jan. 24 to 26. The team, comprised of players from Fort Providence, Hay River, Fort Smith and Behchoko, arrived at the tournament with only eight players and one goalie.

Ben Bonnetrouge had to drop out in the first game due to an injury. That left Kiel Krutko, Mike Krutko, Mykle Grandjambe, Kirk Macdonald, Gerald Tutcho, Andrew Weyallon, Richard Johnstone and goalie Sean Macdonald.

The Bulls had a two-win, two-loss record in the round robin despite losing another player on Sunday. That afternoon, with only one player on the bench, the Bulls faced the Nahanni Inn Flyers who, with only one loss, were ranked second in the round robin. Despite the odds, and the fact they'd lost to them earlier 7-1, the Bulls went onto the ice confident about their chances.

"We weren't even entertaining the idea of finishing third," said Richard Johnstone.

The Bulls dominated the first two periods scoring 5 goals before the Flyers got one past Sean in the last five minutes of the second period.

The Flyers narrowed the difference on the scoreboard in the third period, but not quite enough as the Bulls won the game 6-5. It was a major upset for the hometown team, which had ten players.

"They let us dictate the game to them,"said Johnstone, who played defense. "We just capitalized on our chances."

Some great goal tending by Sean also helped the team, he said.

Winning, however, meant that the Bulls had to immediately play in the finals against the Fuel Flo Jets from Yellowknife, who had gone undefeated to that point. As the Bulls came back on the ice for the finals Johnstone said one word, "tired," described how they were feeling.

The Bulls played just into the second period and then conceded the game with the score 6-0 for the Jets. This is the first time the Jets have played in the tournament.

"It was a good time," said goalie Jony Bembridge.

"We had fun."

Bembridge said he was impressed by the Bulls playing back to back games in the finals.

"They don't quit," he said.

"They came out hard at the start."

Throughout the tournament Bembridge said the Jets tried to outwork their opponents by being the faster team and firing lots of pucks at the net.

"We just tried to skate hard," he said.

The Jets won $3,000 for first place and the Bulls took home $1,500. Keegan Hnatiw of the Jets was named the most valuable player of the tournament and with 20 points. Chris Stipdonk of the Flyers was named the top scorer. Michael Rowe of the Northern Eagles received the top goal-tending award, as well as his first game goal puck.

It was a great weekend for hockey, said Chris Hewitt, one of the tournament organizers. The event is a chance to bring competitive hockey to the village and to allow local players, who might never travel to a tournament, to experience that, he said.

The tournament is also for the fans who come out, watch hockey and cheer on the teams, Hewitt said. Fort Simpson fielded three teams this year, the Flyers, Nogha and the Northern Eagles.

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