Deline Braves finish 3rd in 40th-annual Yukon hockey tournament

After finishing fourth in last year's tournament, the manager for the Deline Braves said winning the 40th Annual Kilrich Building Centres Yukon Native Hockey Tournament didn't feel out of reach for the team.

Team loses semi finals 5-4 to Whitehorse's KDFN team Sunday

The Deline Braves took on the Whitehorse Chiefs in the first game of the 40th Annual Kilrich Building Centres Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. Deline beat Whitehorse 5-0. (Yukon Indian Hockey Association/Facebook)

After four wins in three days, a hockey team from Deline, N.W.T., has finished third at Whitehorse's annual tournament featuring Indigenous players.

From the beginning of the tournament Friday, the Deline Braves led the B division starting off strong with a 5-0 win over the Whitehorse Chiefs. 

By Sunday afternoon, they had only loss one game, which led them to play in the semi finals against Whitehorse's KDFN team.

But in a close game, they ended up losing that game 5-4.

KDFN goes on to play Aklavik, N.W.T.'s LJ's Sabres at 4 p.m. PT.

'They're a really good team'

Most of the Deline Braves, which consists of 17 players from Deline, drove 24 hours — much on winter roads — to get to Yukon.

It's the 40th Annual Kilrich Building Centres Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, a milestone for the all-Aboriginal tournament that involves 43 teams playing in six divisions.

Teams have come from the N.W.T., Yukon and Northern B.C.

Orlena Modeste, who manages the Deline Braves, says the team goes to a lot of hockey tournaments around the Northwest Territories, but doesn't always get the chance to get outside of it.  

She says they have fans no matter where they go.

"We have so much great friends in Deline and all over — every community we go to," Modeste said. "We always have the best fans when Deline plays. So with their support our players play good as well. So I'm really happy about that."

The 2016 Deline Braves. This year's team is hoping for gold at the 40th Annual Kilrich Building Centres Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. (Deline Adult Sports/Facebook)

While the team did compete in the Yukon tournament last year, this is the first time it's been able to send a full squad.

And after finishing fourth previously, the team is proud of its third-place position this year.

"They're a really good team," said Modeste. "They've been playing together for the past couple of years and they worked really hard for the past years in playing together as a good team."

with files from Lawrence Nayally