Three young hockey players from Iqaluit are lighting up the scoreboards in The Pas, Man.
Lodie Ipeelie Jr., Mitchell Tilley and Nate Gardner are playing hockey for the Opaskwayak Cree Nation team in the Keystone Junior Hockey league — the same league where Jordin Tootoo got his start.
"The speed is great, it's amazing," says Ipeelie Jr. "You're out there for 30 to 40 seconds, and busting as hard as you can every shift. Your legs are just wanting to give up but you can't stop."
Ipeelie Jr. is leading the league with 73 points.
"Us three Nunavut kids, we probably have the most speed in the league."
'Different from up North'
Ipeelie Jr. says he feels lucky to have this opportunity, but there are challenges that come with playing in a different part of the country — and his teammate Mitchell Tilley agrees.
"It's real different from up North," says Tilley. "Passing is faster, you really have to pay attention to your positioning."
Tilley credits the time the three boys spent playing together in Nunavut for their success in Manitoba.
"Playing with each other before, we all think the same, it just makes it easy. It's just like playing pond hockey with those two."
Tilley hopes his time in the Junior Hockey league will help inspire youth across the North.
His advice so far? "Just keep working hard and don't give up."
Tilley and his teammates are back on the ice Friday night in a battle for first place in the Keystone league.