The annual Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup (WJCC) is always a special event for teams during the season to spend more time together and play in a tournament over the holidays. This is especially true for teams who travel to Winnipeg to participate. Traveling over 1,500 km to participate, Rankin Rock – Bantam A1 came to the hockey for all centre all the way from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
Being from an isolated community up north, each hockey season the team fundraises to travel and compete in one large tournament. This is a great opportunity for players to play against teams from different parts of the country and give players something to look forward to and work toward.
The location of the WJCC is perfect for the team, with the convenience of a direct flight from the Rankin Inlet Airport to the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, as well as being a great fit for players whose goal is to pursue hockey further and will likely find themselves in Manitoba to play at the next level.
Head Coach, David Clark had been to a few events in Winnipeg at the hockey for all centre including the annual Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre Tournament and the knew that Manitoba has competitive hockey programs and teams to play against.
Coming into the tournament the players put in a lot of work to prepare but had realistic expectations.
The team won their opening game of the tournament 4-1 over the Winterhawks White and finished the round robin with confidence going 4-0. Rankin Rock continued their winning streak shutting out the Canucks in the semi-final.
The WJCC Championship Final on New Year’s Eve was a close match, tied scoreless throughout most of the game until Rankin scored with just under one minute to play in the third period and the win, 1-0. The WJCC Bantam A1 division proved to be the perfect level and event for the team who played in many close games and emerged as champions in this year’s tournament.
Hannah Siksik, parent and team manager shared the following thoughts on the team’s entire WJCC experience:
“The kids and parents were very excited to be able to participate in your event this year. Right from the start of the registration process through to the last game, the experience was so positive. The communication leading up to the event from your team was fantastic, and much appreciated, especially with our remote location, having details so well in advance that were clear and concise was very valuable for us in our planning.
Right from our arrival, our team felt very welcomed. The kids were grateful for the welcome bags, the warm reception from the officials and other teams in the tournament. The calibre of games was great and challenged our kids positively. The facility was outstanding, and for our kids to be able to play in a venue such as yours was an incredible experience, and one they will not forget.
Our kids look forward to the opportunity to come back to Winnipeg to play in this tournament again.”
WJCC tournament organizers were thrilled to have a team register all the way from Rankin Inlet and were excited to see the team play at the training facility of the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose.
As an added bonus, the team was rewarded for its tough competition with success on the scoreboard. As word spread throughout the hockey for all centre during the tournament there was a lot of encouragement from other players and fans cheering for the Rankin Rock team to succeed.
“As tournament organizers that’s the purpose, or home run – to facilitate and provide a great hockey experience for the kids from all over, always.” – Dean Court.
The Rankin Rock Bantam team hopes to attend the tournament once again next season to defend the title as well as Team Nunavut, with players from all over the territory, is also looking to come to Winnipeg to compete in other events held at hockey for all centre.
For more information on hockey for all centre tournaments and programs visit, bellmtsiceplex.ca/tournaments