When a California hockey team was forced to send half of its roster home, the Yellowknife Wolfpack stepped in – and made some trades.
The Wolfpack was taking part in a peewee tournament in Vernon, BC, and due to face the California Wave in the D event final, when the Wave revealed it was facing a crisis.
League rules in California bar the team from missing any games, so half of the team had flown back for a regular season game – leaving just seven players in Vernon for the final.
“If they miss a game, they get removed from the program in California,” explained Ryder Wicks, a member of the Wolfpack. “The rest of them that stayed would have to forfeit.”
That’s when the Wolfpack coaching staff made an offer.
“When I found out what was going on, I knew it would turn into a slaughter,” said Wolfpack coach Darren Wicks.
“We were going to have parents and children upset, kids probably crying. There is no growth or development by doing that.
“So I asked the coach if they just wanted to have a friendly, mix the kids, and let them get to know each other.”
What was supposed to be a head-to-head clash became a North American free trade agreement: the Wolfpack and Wave coaches held an impromptu draft and announced the lineups with both teams gathered in the dressing room.
“The kids were super excited,” said Wicks, “just pumped when they realized, ‘Oh, I’m playing with this guy from Yellowknife’ or ‘I’m playing with this guy from California.'”
Ryder Wicks added: “It was really cool getting to know them.”
The two teams are now hoping to forge closer links, with the prospect of the Wolfpack being invited to California next year.
The result of the exhibition game? According to the Vernon Morning Star, the newly named California Moosemeat defeated the Yellowknife Surfers 7-5.
“It was a fun game, it was a close game,” said coach Darren. “I think that’s what sports should be, especially for children. Friendship, fair play, and cooperation in two different countries.”