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For the royal couple north of 60, hockey, diamonds and wilderness

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge laugh as they receive Team Canada hockey jerseys as they take part in a ball hockey event in Yellowknife, N.T. on Tuesday, July 5, 2011.


For a young man from a tiny town in the Northwest Territories, Calvin Lomen needed just one minute to make a name for himself in hockey-mad Canada - he's the guy who shut out the Prince.

It was the lanky Mr. Lomen, 20, who donned goalie gear and crouched between freshly painted red goalposts to face Prince William during the royal couple's stop in Yellowknife Tuesday.

And Mr. Lomen wasn't about to take it easy on a man in line to, one day, be King. The Duke of Cambridge's first shot hit Mr. Lomen's glove, the second his stick, and the third went wide.

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"Yes, I have [shut him out] and I'm sorry," laughed the young Mr. Lomen, who lives in Fort Liard, a town of about 500. "It's a story to tell my community. It's quite an honour to meet the Prince, too, and his wife, Katie."

He added, sheepishly: "I tried giving him one."

The Prince, a right-handed shot, laughed it off. Premier Floyd Roland is an avid hockey player and didn't do much better - scoring just once in three shots on Mr. Lomen.

"It seems like [the Prince]has a natural talent," Mr. Lomen said. "If he practises more."

The royal visit to Yellowknife, a city of 20,000 that is the gateway to the vast North, was steeped in history and Canadiana - the road-hockey demonstration, a series of aboriginal performances and a retreat into the pristine, untouched wilderness of a remote lodge late Tuesday.

"During your visit, I hope you will feel welcome, not just to observe our territory but to experience it," Mr. Roland said.

Prince William addressed the crowd (large by local standards, but at a few thousand people paling in comparison with those at other stops on the royal couple's Canadian tour) by saying it was "great to be north of 60" and praising the beauty of the territory.

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"Catherine and I are deeply honoured," he said. "We have been here just 12 hours, and we have already sensed the extreme potential of this region, and that irrepressible spirit of adventure that marks out the peoples of the territories and defines this land. We are so excited to be here."

Soon after, the crowd erupted when he closed with "mahsi cho" and "quyanainni," the Dene and Inuvialuktun phrases for "thank you." Dene is spoken throughout the territory (ubiquitously by aboriginals in and around Yellowknife) while Inuvialuktun is spoken along the northern coast, Mr. Roland's home region.

The Prince had been provided with the phonetic spellings of both words, at his request. "It's customary at all his stops where there's a local language to say what he can," said Miguel Head, a spokesman for the royal couple.

The Duchess of Cambridge, meanwhile, easily matched the Prince's star power, dazzling the crowd while wearing a cream-coloured linen dress by Danish designer Malene Birger, with a matching purse and heels.

The latest outfit - the Duchess's clothes have been watched and commented on as closely as any part of this visit - was fashionable but not particularly functional, preventing the former field-hockey player from joining the hockey game.

"Kate, take a shot," one section of the crowd yelled in unison. Instead, she dropped the street hockey ball in a ceremonial faceoff. As is customary, the two youth teams' captains mimed a faceoff and picked up the ball.

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Kate was taken aback - she'd expected to trigger the game. "It's mine?" she asked. "You don't start?" She asked the captains to line up again, dropping the ball once more and starting play.

"That was my fault," laughed one of the captains, 16-year-old Yellowknife resident Gloria Francis. "I didn't know if we were allowed to, like, play around her, just in case we might knock her over."

Mr. Roland presented the Duke and Duchess with a gift - cufflinks and a brooch, each piece shaped like a polar bear and made with 692 diamonds in total from the territory's largest mine, 2.48 carats each for the cufflinks and 4.5 carats for the brooch.

"We hope we've left a mark in your memories of the Northwest Territories," the Premier said.

Officials confirmed Tuesday that the royal couple will visit fire-ravaged Slave Lake, Alta., on Wednesday to meet with first responders and residents who lost their homes in a May forest fire. They'll then head to Calgary, where the royal visit wraps up Friday.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Josh is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa. Before moving to the nation's capital in 2013, he covered provincial affairs in Edmonton and throughout Alberta. He joined the Globe in 2008 in Toronto before returning to his home province in 2010. More

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