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  • New Name—Many New Athletes—Team Kalaallit Nunaat May Be a New Ace

    Team Kalaallit Nunaat, situated within the Arctic Circle and representing Greenland, holds the distinction of being the northernmost team participating in the Arctic Game. Making the current weather conditions appear rather balmy for them. Recently renamed from Team Greenland to Kalaallit Nunaat, which is the indigenous Greenlandic name for the country, this change reflects a significant step by the Sport Confederation of Greenland towards embracing it’s countries native culture. Despite the international recognition of the name Greenland, the acceptance of the indigenous title by both the Sport Confederation of Greenland and the Arctic Winter Games marks a pivotal moment. Comprising athletes competing in Arctic Sports, Dene Games, Badminton, Snowboarding, and Cross-Country Skiing, Team Kalaallit Nunaat boasts a total of 65 members including participants, coaches and support staff. With a notable presence of returning athletes, particularly in Badminton and Dene Games, the team demonstrates continuity and expertise in these disciplines. The popularity of Arctic Sports and Dene Games is on the rise in Kalaallit Nunaat, with plans for the inaugural international tournament scheduled to take place in Greenland next year. The anticipation surrounding the event underscores the country’s eagerness to showcase its athletic ability on the global stage. As we reach the midweek mark, the performance of Team Kalaallit Nunaat becomes increasingly noteworthy. The female Badminton players remain undefeated, while their male counterparts also have had a commendable showing. Some participants have already secured placements in their respective sports, hinting at a promising Ulu haul for Greenland by the end of the week. It is remarkable to witness the dedication of these athletes across different age groups, as they passionately pursue their sporting endeavors. Above all, their joyous demeanor and proud representation of their country and culture leave a lasting impression. Make sure to keep an eye onTeam Kalaallit Nunaat progress. For those unable to attend, check out Hometeam’s live stream of competition or check out the team’s facebook page for updates and athlete interviews. https://www.facebook.com/gif.grl

  • Ballet in Motion: Alaskan High Kick

    The stage was set at the Colony Middle School Gym for the athletes to compete in the Alaskan High Kick. There were five different areas set up around the gymnasium, where athletes would turn their world upside down in an attempt to bring their foot in perfect contact with the ball. Each athlete has three chances to reach great heights and connect with that point in space where the tip of their foot meets and moves the dangling sphere. As each competitor approached the playing field, they would walk up to the hanging ball, reach their hand upward to plot the trajectory. They would then sit on the wooden gym floor and poise themselves mentally, as they prepared for this magical dance. They went from a sitting position on the wooden floor to turning their body upside down with their foot fully extended, above their head. This is truly a ballet of body and spirit thrust into the ether. Each athlete orchestrated their own original ballet of motion as they stretched their bodies beyond what they could do. It was sheer will power combined with careful choreography that propelled them to their point of contact. If one of the athletes wasn't successful in making contact or sticking their landing correctly, one of their teammates or a member from another team would make a suggestion of how they could tweak their approach for a successful connection. Everyone: athletes, coaches, the competition, family, and friends wanted each and every athlete to be successful and achieve their lofty goal of orchestrating the perfect moves to pull off their personal ballet. This competition really is just against themselves, not to beat their competitors but rather to improve their own game. Here on this stage of sports, the Arctic Winter Games, there is a camaraderie that is seldom seen in other sport arenas. There is a burning desire in each of these athletes to help each other to be the very best that they can be. Over and over, you could see encouragement and support being hand delivered, in the trenches, by their fellow athletes. It is uplifting to witness the spirit in these Winter Games. At the end of this day some athletes excelled more than others, in the Alaskan High Kick. Athletes born 2007 or later had these results. Lars Jeremiassen, from Team Greenland, took home the gold ulu for first place, with a high kick of 88 inches. In second place, Daniel Rodgers, from Team Alaska had a high kick of 82 inches which gave him a silver ulu and second place. Leif Richards, of Team Alaska, took third place with a kick of 80 inches. In the "Open" category for Alaska High Kick, Parker Kenick, of Team Alaska, took home the gold ulu and first place, with a kick of 90 inches. Second place and a silver ulu, went to Colton Paul, of Team Alaska, with a high kick of 90 inches. Filling out the podium, Matthew Quinto, of Team Alaska, took home the bronze ulu and third place. It was a clean sweep by Team Alaska! It truly was a grand day of a ballet of motion.

  • Three Cheers for Your Favorite Team!

    Chants are a way for supporters in the stands to both interact with the game and the players playing. Most chants start either with one person starting them or a small group which then spreads to a whole crowd. Here are some common chants from each team: Nunavut: Nunavut [clap clap clap] (one person) N what (crowd respond) NU (one person) Nunavut (crowd respond) Nunavut Lets go nunavut lets go [clap clap/stomp stomp] Yukon: Yukon [clap clap/stomp stomp] Lets go Yukon [clap clap clap clap clap/stomp] Hey yo, oh hey, oh hey, oh hey, Yukon, Yukon! Sápmi: Sapmi [clap clap clap/stomp] (one person) Give me a S (crowd respond) S (one person) give me a A (crowd respond) A (one person) give me a P (crowd respond ) P (one person) give me a M (crowd respond) M (one person) Give me a I (crowd respond) I (one person) What does that spell (Crowd respond) SAPMI!!!! Alaska: Let’s go, Alaska, Alaska, let’s go! (one person) A who (crowd respond) AK Let’s go, Alaska, let’s go [clap clap/stomp] Oh ley, oh ley, oh ley, oh ley, AK all day! All these chants may be used with other teams and not just the ones mentioned just change out the letters and or names. Most chants are repeated more than once and have a certain rhythm, you can just follow along with the crowd to join the chant. One thing to remember though is to always be respectful to other fans in the stands, don't start booing other people or players.

  • Knik Tribe Drone Pilots Taking The 2024 Winter Games Even Higher

    The Mat-Su 2024 Arctic Winter Games is proud to partner with various video teams this week to assist in making the Games accessible to everyone -whether sold out, unable to travel, or even just if you prefer to Games & chill at home - our video team is making it happen. It is their expertise and dedication that allows the livestream view and record our outdoor sports such as snowboarding, alpine ski, and more. Today we have Bre Wong (Caddo of the Oklahoma Nation) and Kevin Lytlehere to share their expertise and allow us to get to know them. Q: Tell us a little bit about yourselves. BW: My name is Bre Wong, and I'm an instructor for the Horizons grant at the Benteh STEAM Academy which is through Knik Tribe. We teach drone piloting, drone careers and engineering to our students in middle and high school. KL: I do the same thing, I'm with Knik Tribe. It's a federal ANE - Alaska Native Education- grant, specifically focusing on teaching drones and aviation with culturally connective lessons. Q:Did you always want to do drone work or did it kind of lead you in that direction and blossomed? BW:I have been working with ANE grants for the last – I want to say 9 years. Specifically teaching different STEAM formats and the most recent one, I was able to get was through Horizons, working aviation style, working in the aviation field. I always wanted to be a pilot. I was really interested in flying. I wanted to do it as a career, but it never panned out the way I hoped it would. I started on my private pilot's license, so I hope to finish that soon. When the opportunity arose for me to take on the lead of this grant, the manager of the program was like, 'Yo, you'd be perfect, we think you'd fit in very well.' I said, 'Sure!' And I jumped on board. Since then, I'm been having a lot of fun and our students are really engaged. I think it's a great way to reach them and give them opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have. KL: I am a retired police officer out of Waukegan, IL, just halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. In about 2018, I helped start our drone unit for that police department that did things like search and rescue and processing. I got my pilot's license through there and again in this previous year, I had to medically retire due to a duty injury. I've known Bre for about 8 years. I moved here with my partner. When we arrived, Bre reached out and said 'Hey, we have this position open that would be perfect for you. You've been flying drones for years, you have a huge background in this'. I onboarded with Knik Tribe because the federal grant was specifically drone focused. I have about four to five years experience. I helped to start and run our drone unit. I also have a pilot license. My experience with drone use includes the integration of the public and law enforcement side. Even with what we do at AWG, there's still a lot of contact that we have to have with the FAA and local law enforcement in order to make sure we are flying legally and safely. Q: Did you have a mentor growing up that helped shape your interest in this field? BW: When I was really young, my parents were very active in Alaska. They wanted to get us out to do as much outdoor stuff we possibly could. One of the things that we did every single year is, there is this cabin on the Resurrection Trail at Swan Lake. It's a specific spot. At the far end of that lake, which is the largest one on the trail system, you would have to fly in on a float plane. Ever since I was a kid, we're talking three years old and up, I was a toddler the first time we went out there, my parents would make a week-long trip and we would always go out there, every year. I got to know the pilots really well. I was always in the front with the little headset on. Some of my favorite photos as a child are me in a bush plane with a headset on talking to the pilots, just flying. When I was growing up, as I got a little older, a lot of our family friends also had aircrafts, so being able to jump in those planes and get some hands on experience, learning about flying, all of that really boiled down to; I don't have one mentor, I had a community around me of pilots that were encouraging and awesome. I know it's really common for girls to feel like 'oh, I can't get my hands dirty. The pilots were like, “Nah, you got this. Here help me put this back together. Or, let's take apart this plane and fix it'. I learned fabricing, riveting, and the engine process. All of that from these awesome pilots and awesome people who had these planes. That's where I got my interest and experience from. KL: For me, growing up, it was actually my interest in robotics that led to my interest in drones. It was Battle Bots on Comedy Central. Me and my older brother would watch that every Wednesday. As he got older, he ended up, in his free time, building and competing in micro battle boy competitions. He loves it. I've always really enjoyed watching what he does so when the opportunity came up with drones and to develop the drone unit and get my pilot’s license, I jumped on that right away. I didn't have the time and opportunity to build robots and battle bots but if they were going to pay for me to go through and get my license to be able to fly drones and get paid for it, I was really excited about that. We were able to put them to good use where we were working. For me, that kind of where it stems from, watching my brother do all these really cool and fun things with robots and finally having the opportunity myself. Q: What is the hardest challenge you have overcome, whether personal or in the field? BW: I think the challenge I am constantly facing and fighting against is just the idea that I work in the STEM field. The STEM field is primarily male-dominated and being able to stand up for myself, constantly be that light for the students who are also doing that, has been the biggest challenge and will continue to be the biggest challenge at least for a little while longer. Until people realize that women are just as capable, If not more awesome at times in this field. I think that has always been the biggest challenge. But I think it has inspired me to keep going constantly. KL: For me, I think it was that I had to medically retire because of a physical duty injury that is now a permanent disability for me. For me that's one of the hardest things I struggle to move forward with. Learning how to live with this disability, how it affects my life and my work and how I can go forward through that, but on a deeper level, how can I use that to move forward and teach people. What can I do to foster some disability representation in those different fields? That is something I don't know how to do super well. I'm still trying to figure it out because it is so new for me. BW: I would also like to add that queer representation in STEM fields is also under represented and undervalued.That's another thing that we really need to step up and show. It's not just being a female, it's being a queer woman standing up for myself and being able to do all that. I think that is also one of the biggest issues that we currently face out here in the valley. The Knik Tribe Drone Team is assisting Home Team Live in providing video coverage across outdoor venues this week. Their footage will be viewable in the on-demand section of awg2024.org/livestream

  • EVER SOARING

    Edited by Andrea Pond Think of strong, graceful, migratory birds: Canada geese, aptly-named trumpeter swans, all kinds of ducks. During migration, the lead bird very responsibly assesses wind speed and direction, thermals, and environmental changes that may alter landmarks, such as forest fires, floods, or deforestation preparatory to construction. The leader must monitor his own energy level as well so that he can signal a rotation in position to the next leader. The leader signals the birds behind him: head upward, dip down, turn to the east coming up, prepare to head west, we're landing on that large island up ahead to stop and eat. All the while, the leader signals vocally or by body signals. As in dancing, many figure skating routines mimic nature. I was overwhelmed with these parallels earlier today as I watched the figure skaters drill through some of their practice routines. The leader would circle around the rink, followed by successive skaters who fell in rhythmically behind, changing positions at prescribed intervals, all in perfect time with the provocative background music. Some of the routines suggested ballet on ice. The changes of order were performed with impressive skill and artistry; the undulating circles were carried out with a rare dedication and beauty. All this seeming perfection was a total joy to behold, and it was just a first practice for this rink and event. It's hard to believe that it can possibly become any better, but it can and it will! We still have three more days for the privilege of enjoying these magnificent routines! Skate on, athletes!

  • Accuracy and Skill

    The Arctic Winter Games Archery competition is being held at Screaming Eagle Archery, located close to the heart of the town of Wasilla AK. The Arctic Winter Games events consisted of Compound Bow, Barebow, as well as mixed team competition. These events have been long awaited, as these young archers have been putting many hours into training to prepare for the Games. Watching as the competing archers carefully draw arrows from their quivers, line up their shot, and send them to their mark downrange with such accuracy and skill is mesmerizing. Such a delicate process but ultimately delivering a mighty blow to their desired target. The teammates show so much encouragement and support for one another, whether the archer hit their target precisely or not at all. Such incredible sportsmanship was seen amongst the archers and their teammates. I had a chance to talk to Barebow competitors Blake Parker and Breea Holman from Team Alaska after their team event about their AWG experience. Blake said the whole experience from participating in the games has just been a lot of fun. From the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremony, to life at the village, hanging out and making friends with competitors from around the world—Plus engaging with some of the other events have all been a big part of the whole experience of Arctic Winter Games. Teammate Breea told the Ulu News that she has been competing in archery for approximately five years, but that Barebow was a new and challenging adventure for her. She has been really enjoying meeting so many new people from different countries, and that was part of this opportunity she looked forward to experiencing. She smiled when she said that life in the village, which for the Team Alaska Archers has been at Wasilla High School. Has been like a fun, relaxed and well fed summer camp. I asked Breea what she would say, if she could sum up some words about what the Arctic Winter Games and her Barebow event have meant to her. She said “It has been some of the best and hardest fun you could ever have.” Following the event that day was the awards ceremony. From Team Alaska, the podium had Blake Parker and Breea Holman standing up, as they had won the bronze ulu, alongside their other teammates from Team Alaska Kate Connelly and Colter Gose who had earned the silver ulu. There’s more archery to come this week. For those who want to watch our amazing athletes compete. Just head over to Screaming Eagle Archery in Wasilla to cheer these skilled participants on!

  • Watch party Portland

    Hello, Ulu News! I wanted to share this with you, as it demonstrates the extensive reach and appeal of the Arctic Winter Games from those who live in warmer climates! Our daughter, born and raised in the Mat-Su Valley, went to Portland, Oregon (USA) for college. She, her boyfriend, and their friends in Portland held a watch party yesterday to view the livestream of events, as well as past footage of the Games. Here’s a photo of them, in their studio with the stream on the big screen! Keep up the good work! We love reading the Ulu News! Submitted by Tracy Ressler

  • Grace Under Pressure

    As the morning’s rays broke over the cloudy gray horizon, eager spectators seated on yellow concrete bleachers primed to be awestruck in one of the most highly anticipated events of the Games, were not disappointed. Figure skating, a dazzling and elegant performance of skill and grace was appreciated by a crowd left in awe, when female figure skaters competed against each other in the Level 1 Short Program. In the opening ceremony, teams from Alaska, Alberta North, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon skated out onto the ice, proudly displaying their colorful regional flags. Each participant has less than three minutes to impress the scorekeepers. Before competing, girls warmed up on the ice, overcoming slips and spills as they practiced stunning jumps, spins, and glides. The costumes, an array of imaginative design and color:  gold sparkling lame′, bright pink with a pink fringe skirt, a simile of gold or red flames on a black bodysuit, or white with a lime green ruffle. Natalie Stark of Team Yukon was the first out, sweeping her arms over her head then drawing them up and down to the music as she launched into her performance.  Following was Aidyn Lewis of Eagle River, skating on her home rink, snapping her fingers in time with the jaunty “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.  Skaters choreographed their moves meticulously, artfully moving to music like pop, classical, and instrumental music. By now the stands were full of people rallying and cheering with each axel and sit-spin. Team Nunavut competed for the first time since 2018.  While other teams had five to eight girls, Team Nunavut was represented by 2, Tia Awa Kilabuk and Kimberly Gissing, both 14 years old.  This was the first event that either girl had ever competed in. Although they didn't know it until later, the Nunavut Minister of Community and Government Services, was applauding in the stands with friends, who took video of much of their performance. “I’m so proud of them,” said coach Janna Lynn Maclachlan, “It’s enormous pressure to be in a small outfit in the cold in an event. They have to have the physical skills and the artistry and be comfortable in front of a crowd. To feel confident enough to perform is amazing. And they are just such nice girls." Tia started her program with an arm drawn across her face, stock still until the music began. Then she leapt into a spin. “I landed my first axel!” she said when asked about the best part of her program.  That is impressive, to be confident enough to try such a hard move in front of an audience!   Kimberly’s forte was embodying the music, an instrumental, which she did exceptionally well, making full use of the entire rink. Asked if she had chosen the tune, Janna said the music was chosen by the National Coach, but the girls had time to work with the music and practice. Team Nunavut skaters are based in Iqaluit, a town of 8,000 residents where the sport is small yet growing. “We have four or five good coaches now,” said Janna. “And this event has been great for networking.” She is learning about more events in Yellowknife and the Yukon. But she also hopes to be back in Alaska someday. "The views are amazing, and the people are all so friendly."

  • Arctic Beats: Pamyua Brings Inuit Soul Music to Arctic Winter Games 2024

    Get ready for a night of cultural immersion and musical brilliance as Pamyua (pronounced bum-yo-ah), Alaska’s premier Inuit musical group, takes the stage at the Glenn Massey Theater on Thursday, March 14. They will follow the Indigenous Fashion Show as part of the Arctic Winter Games 2024 festivities. Pamyua is known for their dynamic fusion of traditional Inuit drum and dance melodies with contemporary R&B vocals. Described as "Inuit Soul Music," it serves as a powerful expression of Indigenous identity and pride, transcending geographical boundaries to resonate with audiences worldwide. Pamyua honors Indigenous traditions, history, and storytelling through their performances. Formed in 1995 by brothers Phillip and Stephen Blanchett, Pamyua quickly rose to fame, captivating audiences with their unique sound. With the addition of Ossie Kairaiuak and Karina Moeller, the quartet has evolved into a cultural phenomenon. Phillip Blanchett's inspiration came from his mother's traditional Yup’ik dance performance. He was determined to create a group that would capture the spirit of the Yup’ik word "Pamyua," meaning "Encore" or "Do it Again." Today, Pamyua’s influence extends beyond the stage. They’ve scored music for the National Geographic reality show Life Below Zero: First Alaskans, composed original pieces for Flying Wild Alaska on the Discovery Channel, and even contributed to the theme song of the PBS Kids show Molly of Denali. Through these projects, they continue to amplify Indigenous voices and narratives on a global scale. As Pamyua prepares to take stage at the Arctic Winter Games, audiences can expect an unforgettable experience of energy, emotion, and cultural celebration. It’s more than just a concert—it's a journey into the heart and soul of Inuit culture, brought to life through the universal language of music and dance.

  • Athletes, Coaches, and Spectators Make Tuesday’s Snowsnake Competition a Communal Experience

    “You can think of it as underhand javelin.” Jasper Charlie, 15, of Team Yukon explained the basics of Snowsnake, a traditional Dené game, as he devoured a cracker heaped with smoked salmon dip at last night’s Traditional Feast. “I wanted to win so badly! I came in fifth today.” Enthusiastically diving into his bowl of Moose Steak Salad next, he blurted out between bites, “that’s okay, though. She won gold!” Charlie pointed to his teammate across the table. Myra Kendi, 16, held up her shining 2024 golden ulu that still hung around her neck, simply beaming. Snow Snake, on its surface, seems like a simple game. Players try to throw a long stick as far as they can, sliding it across a flat sheet of snow and ice. However, after spending the day watching a wide variety of athletes compete in this event, it’s more accurate to say that winning the gold in Snow Snake is a much more complex challenge than it might seem. Snowsnake is a traditional game that is rumored to derive from practicing the skills needed to effectively hunt small game animals in the circumpolar north. However, many of the coaches and officials at the event held outside of Palmer Junior Middle School today described Snowsnake as a demonstration of caribou hunting skills. One Yukon coach explained that traditionally hunters throw the first spear underhand, aiming low to injure a caribou’s legs, making it easier to follow up and complete the kill. These traditional origins were apparent at the Dené Games today as coaches, officials, and contestants joked with each other about how many caribou each one would have taken down with their throws if this were a real-life hunting scenario. In modern Snowsnake competitions, the game is played not with a spear, but with a stick (usually carved from Ash) measuring about four feet long, one inch in diameter, and pointed at one end. For the Arctic Winter Games, the teams’ coaches met together to choose sticks for the competition, one for male and one for female contestants. During today’s competition, each athlete had three attempts to launch their stick down a flat, straight track of packed snow, about ten feet wide and 400 feet long. Banked sides keep the stick on track—well, most of the time, anyway. Spectators were reminded to keep their eyes on the track and be mindful of standing too close, so as not to wind up like an unfortunate caribou. Snowsnake rules require that the stick be thrown underhand, starting from below the hip. Team Alaska coach, Kunaq Tahbone, explained some of the finer points of good snowsnake technique. According to Tahbone, it’s important to find the right point of balance on the stick, with most athletes choosing to hold the stick at a spot near the center. The stick should be released at just the right moment, just above the snow and aimed just right, so it successfully glides straight down the track– no jumping or bouncing. Athletes competed in four divisions today: Open Male, Open Female, U18 Male, and U18 Female. In addition to the competition track, another practice track was active today, where athletes could be seen practicing their throws, and helping teach the game to others, including spectators of all ages. “Dené Games and Arctic Sports are the backbone of the Arctic Winter Games.” Coach Tahbone said Tuesday. Nowhere was this more evident than in the community spirit shown by the athletes encouraging one another and helping newcomers learn their game.

  • How PINteresting!

    Curious about Pin Trading? Let’s delve into its fascinating history. Pin trading is believed to have originated during the 1896 Athens olympics. According to Custom Comet LLC, a pin fabricator, pins of that time consisted of “round cardboard with ribbons attached. They were a way for the athletes and officials to identify themselves.” Fast forward to the Mat-Su 2024 Arctic Winter Games, where pin trading has evolved into a cherished activity embraced by athletes, coaches and spectators alike so much so that it’s affectionately dubbed the “21st sport” of the games, fostering connections that transcend language barriers. Janet Pacey, is a seasoned pin trading enthusiast from YellowKnife, Northwest Territories, Canada. Despite not being a participant in the games, Janet has immersed herself in the art of pin trading since 2004. Reflecting on her journey, she recalls her initial exposure to pin trading at the Arctic Winter Games in Grand Rapids, where she was captivated by the activity. "To send out pins and to talk to the public and, sort of just be their audience relations sort of capacity and, became wildly addicted to pin trading almost right away," Janet reminisces about her early days as a pin trader during her tenure with CBC North. For Janet and many others, the thrill in the chase of attempting to collect a complete set of pins from a specific year is unmatched. Beyond the pursuit of pins, it’s the camaraderie and sense of community forged through trading that enriches the experience. Want to embark on your own pin trading journey? Begin by visiting the Palmer Train Depot, also referred to during Arctic Winter Games as “Alaska Airlines Arctic Winter Games Headquarters” where professional collectors await, eager to trade. You can get starter pins at the merch store at the depot. As you navigate the world of pin trading keep these pointers in mind: Patience is key; don’t be disheartened if you can’t find a specific pin immediately. Respect ongoing trades and wait for them to conclude before initiating your own. Don’t be too pushy, you can negotiate, it's part of the fun, but don’t push until someone becomes uncomfortable. Do your research! Some pins are more rare than others. Be aware that puzzle pins have more than one part and can be challenging to collect. With these tips in mind, dive into the world of pin trading and discover the joy of collecting, connecting, and creating lasting memories at the Arctic Winter Games.

  • GOOD GAME

    The players glided into view over a smooth field of ice as a gleeful audience buzzed in anticipation, cheering for all the players in the rink. The energy of the arena said it all– this was going to be an epic ice hockey game for Team Alaska and Team Yukon. At the start, the teams exchanged slapshots like a call and response, answering shot for shot. Soon skaters’ foreheads dripped with sweat and both teams gladly took a moment to breathe at the end of the first period, regrouping on the bench as each team planned their attack. Team Alaska quickly took the lead as Yukon players glared determined through frosted visors. Challenge accepted. It was GAME ON. Fans in Alaskan blue and gold drank from steaming cups of afternoon coffee, alert as Team Yukon made their moves. Blades slicing across the ice with the grit and gusto of seasoned professionals, the battle continued into the next period. Yukon gave it their all! The numbers on the scoreboard barely budged for Team Alaska until the very end of the second period. Alaska kept the lead with Yukon doing all they could to execute a solid defensive tactic. Yukon’s goalie moved with expert precision and timing, protecting the goal at all costs, stopping slapshots with both blades and catching flying pucks before they could find the back of the net. The competition grew so intense at one point that the crowd fell silent, just staring in awe–both teams’ fans hoping, some doubting, others cheering while Team Yukon and Team Alaska committed 100% of their energy to Tuesday night’s game. Team Yukon seemed to know what they were up against. Breathless by the end of the second period, they gathered into a huddle, their coaches joining the circle to quickly discuss strategy. In the stands, a single fan waved Alaska’s flag with honor. As if in reply, Yukon rattled their blades against the side of their box, and with a single glance from their coach, poured off the benches and back onto the ice. Blades cast a spray of ice across the glass. Players slammed into the boards, panting, hearts clearly racing, eyes darting to every corner through the fast-paced game. Each player fought hard for their team as the audience sat at the edge of their seats, intensely focused on the nonstop action. Yukon played hard, but ultimately Alaska won, 9-0. The results displayed on the scoreboard, there was a touching moment of camaraderie after their struggle as the teams met and brotherly hugs replaced competitive shoves. Putting their blades to one side, hands extended willingly, they congratulated each other. “Good game, good game…” they chanted as they swapped handshakes. Despite the 9-0 score, it’s worth noting that every player remained a leader, a fighter, and a winner throughout the game.

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