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Game on in Rankin
Nine teams set to battle for Polar Bear Plate

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hockey Town should be hitting a fever pitch when the puck is dropped to begin the Polar Bear Plate in Rankin Inlet tomorrow, Feb. 6.

Nine teams will compete in two divisions of the full-contact juvenile-junior event, including two teams from host Rankin, Arviat, Iqaluit, Team Nunavut Arctic Winter Games (AWG) midget team, a combined Whale Cove and Baker Lake squad, Repulse Bay, Coral Harbour and Chesterfield Inlet.

Tournament organizer David Clark said the excitement is high for this year's event, which promises to be highly competitive.

He said from what he's seen on the out-of-town rosters, the field appears to be fairly well-balanced.

"I've been organizing the Polar Bear Plater since 2008 and the level of hockey just seems to get better and better every year," said Clark.

"Having the AWG team in the mix every second year adds to the tournament.

"It's been a solid contender every year it's come to the tournament, that I can remember.

"We'll have kids from across Nunavut playing this weekend and, for a lot of them, it's their first time to be in this tournament, so I'm sure they're going to be pretty excited about being here."

Clark said many fans might be looking at the Iqaluit and Rankin juniors, along with Team Nunavut, to be the frontrunners at the event.

He said while they will have strong teams, Repulse Bay has also been solid the past two years and shouldn't be taken lightly by anyone.

"Arviat looks like it also has a very strong team, and the combined team of Whale Cove and Baker Lake could be pretty deadly, too.

"You don't know until the games are played. What I do know is that it's my favourite tournament of the year and I'm really looking forward to it."

Fans don't see full-contact hockey on a regular basis in the North anymore, a fact that makes the Plate somewhat unique.

Clark said nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, but there's no doubt the appeal of contact hockey raises the bar at the Polar Bear Plate.

He said the contact makes for the kind of game many hockey fans enjoy.

"It's a lot more physical than what you see in senior men's hockey and it's the kind of game I enjoy.

"It seems to bring out more emotion and, on top of that, you have a tournament full of young men who have their testosterone levels going through the roof.

"It just makes for exciting hockey and the crowds at the games are always good.

"The physicality adds to the event and brings out the best in the game of hockey, as far as I'm concerned."

Thanks to fundraising and sponsorships, weekend passes are available at the bargain price of $10 for adults and $5 for elders and students.

Clark said the money raised is put back into the tournament every year to help keep it afloat.

"I'm proud to say, between fundraising and sponsorships, the Kivalliq players didn't have to pay anything to come to Rankin.

"I owe a big thank you to Calm Air for the special rates the airline gave us for the players, as well as the Kivalliq Inuit Association for its $5,000 donation to the event.

"Hockey Nunavut also made a substantial donation to the Plate, and the Team Kivalliq junior 'C' team also donated $5,000."

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