Excitement filled the air when 16 Junior Novice teams from across Saskatchewan and Manitoba converged on Yorkton for a three-day hockey tournament from March 6-8.
With coaches Derek Ekstrom, Ryan Ekstrom and Miles Johnson are Wadena’s Junior Novice Jaguars. Left to right, standing, are Dryden Ekstrom, Carson Ekstrom, Brett Haskey, Mason Eliason, McCartney Johnson, Darrin Crowe; kneeling, Jake Haskey, Kenneth Crowe, Benjiamin Tokarchuk, Ryden Johnson, Rhys Cote, Cash Quessey; in front, Ryan Fielding.
Two of those teams from Wadena were the Jaguars and Panthers, who were chomping at the bit to get on the ice and face their competitors. Each team played a minimum of three games, moving throughout the draws based on their game outcomes.
Right out of the gate the Jaguars won their first game 9-8 against the Yorkton Ice Capps on Saturday morning. It was an exciting finish to a tie game when Dryden Ekstrom scored the winning goal with only five seconds left in the game.
The second game was played at the Farrell Arena against the Grand Plain Hawks. It was a tough game, but ultimately the young Jaguar squad was victorious, thanks to the offensive strength of Carson Ekstrom, Mason Eliason, Brett Haskey and Dryden Ekstrom, plus the fantastic second-half goalie stance of Cash Quessey. Jake Haskey provided support on the offensive lines, always looking to score that goal! Kenneth Crowe continued to provide his physical presence on the ice during his shifts.
Game three on Sunday was a hard-fought battle against Esterhazy, which saw the lead change and score tied all throughout the game. Ryan Fielding’s play in goal was phenomenal and was a strong contributing factor to the win sending the team to the A final. Benjiamin Tokarchuk and Ryden Johnson, two of the younger players on the team, hung in there with the games, adding their offensive and defensive support. Rhys Cote provided support on the rushes and worked hard for the puck in both the offensive and defensive ends.
It was then back to the Farrell Arena to play the A final against the Yorkton Tim Hortons. The first half was close as both teams were feeling the effects of playing a game earlier in the day. During the second half, the Jaguars broke out with goals from McCartney Johnson, Darrin Crowe, Mason Eliason, Carson Ekstrom and Dryden Ekstrom leading the team to a 13-6 victory and clinching the title of A-side champions for the tournament.
The team is coached by Derek Ekstrom, Ryan Ekstrom and Miles Johnson. These individuals volunteered many hours over the hockey season, coaching the skaters in practice and in games. Their dedication to the team was an important aspect in ending their season in a winning way.
Submitted by Kelly Tokarchuk