Northern tour, Day 3: A new car, a second chance at the NHL and a new language

Nobody wins from the NHL lockout, right? Guess again. In a wild case of beginner’s luck during the second intermission of Sunday’s Northern Lights Dream tour, an apprentice carpenter named Patrick Osmond won himself a $30,000 car for shooting the puck from centre ice through a tiny opening in a board placed across the net.

Northern tour, Day 3: A new car, a second chance at the NHL and a new language
Day Two of the Northern Lights Dream Tour, which saw players leaving Yellowknife on a 1942 DC 3 (used in WWII over Normandy) for hunting and fishing in Deline. Here, Ottawa native and Winnipeg Jets player Grant Clitsome checks out the spectacular view of a the world's fifth largest lake below while en route to Deline. (JULIE OLIVER/OTTAWA CITIZEN)

YELLOWKNIFE, NWT – Nobody wins from the NHL lockout, right? Guess again. In a wild case of beginner’s luck during the second intermission of Sunday’s Northern Lights Dream tour, an apprentice carpenter named Patrick Osmond won himself a $30,000 car for shooting the puck from centre ice through a tiny opening in a board placed across the net.

Osmond is the first to admit he’s not some kind of local hockey legend. He has just about the same hockey background as Donny or Marie Osmond (FYI, no relation. And we neglected to ask if he could sing).

“No, sir, I’ve never played hockey in my life,” he said after being mobbed on the ice by NHLers Guillaume Latendresse, Jim Slater and Jordin Tootoo. “I actually thought I was going to miss the net clean. I didn’t even think I was going to touch it.”

The shoot-for-the-hole-in-the-net is a staple of intermission activities, but the NHLers seemed happier than anyone to see Osmond win, lifting him into the air in front of the 1,500 fans at the Yellowknife Multiplex. “They all laughed,” Osmond said. “They told me they had never seen anyone do it before.”

FATHER KNOWS BEST: Tom Cochrane named one of his albums Ragged Ass Road in tribute to a street here in Yellowknife (note to my kids at home, it’s not really swearing if it’s actually used in everyday conversation), so he knows the city well. But maybe Cochrane got it all backwards when he sang that “my kid is going to play in the big leagues.”

Take the case of Mirsad Mujcin, who finally made it to the NHL Sunday, playing in front of his children.

When Northern Lights Dream Tour organizers needed a few extra players to fill out team rosters here Sunday night, they started asking questions and scouring area recreational leagues. Maybe they should have just looked into the rafters at the arena, which sports a retired number 17 sweater once worn by Mujcin.

Approached on Friday, he didn’t need to be asked twice. “Well, put it this way, it changed my weekend habits pretty quick,” he said. “This is an honour, so I will take it any day.”

Mujcin’s mother and his father were also in attendance as the exchanged passes with the likes of Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, Peter Regin, Marc Methot and Guillaume Latendresse.

“It’s good. It’s really nice.The community is loving it. It has been the buzz around town. My kid’s hockey team is here. It’s all we’ve been thinking about at practice the last week and a half. It’s a good buzz.”

Mujcin, 39, isn’t a complete stranger to high level hockey. He played in the Western Hockey League in the early 1990′s, racking up 300 penalty minutes with the Tri-City Americans in 1991-92. He also had a small test of pro hockey, scoring four goals and five assists with the Erie Panthers of the East Coast League in 1993-94.

He says the NHL players welcomed him into the dressing room with open arms. “Well, they’re just hockey players, right? That’s why they’re here.”

So did mom and dad take pictures of him on the ice? “Well, maybe it’s just a bit too late for that.”

 HUNTING, FISHING, DOGSLEDDING? Monday is a hockey free day for the travelling NHLers, as they fly to Delina for a “cultural” experience in the community of 600, a good 550 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife. The language spoken is primarily Sahtu Dene. Could be interesting. My Sahtu Dene isn’t what it used to be.

November 19, 7:40 a.m.

 

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