AAA hockey returning to Whitehorse

If all goes according to plan, Whitehorse hockey fans will have more to cheer about this season with the resurrection of the city's AAA hockey team, the Huskies.

If all goes according to plan, Whitehorse hockey fans will have more to cheer about this season with the resurrection of the city’s AAA hockey team, the Huskies.

While still in the initial stages of planning, the team has been accepted by Hockey Canada and, so far, has an owner, a head coach and a pair of skilled goaltenders showing interest in playing. It still needs a general manager and lines of players.

“So we’re going to go through a series of identification (tryouts) to see what kind of players are around and what kind of interest is around,” said Randy Merkel, who will be coaching the new team. “We will be leaving slots open for pick-ups, so some of the local boys playing outside (the Yukon) we like very much to see if we can get them – that caliber – and see if we can get them thinking AAA hockey.

“I’ve initiated conversations with some of them, but not all of them, and they seem pretty interested.”

Merkel admits that there would be benefits to re-starting the team in AA instead of AAA, but a possibly short road to the Allan Cup, the Canadian senior AAA championship in April, was too good to pass up.

“It’s starting to look like we might only have to beat Powell River, BC, (in a five-game series) to get to the Allan Cup,” said Merkel, who also coaches Whitehorse’s First Nations atom team, the Wolverines.

“Having said that, Powell River is a very strong team, but still, if you only have to beat one team to get there, my goodness, that’s a pretty short and direct route. It’s very attractive for us.”

Conveniently, next spring’s Allan Cup will be held in Fort St. John, BC.

Before the championships in April, the team hopes to invite outside teams, attend a tournament and even have a home-and-home series with Fort St. John’s AAA team.

The Huskies hockey team dissolved after the 1992-93 season, going out on top with the capture of the Allan Cup.

“They disappeared because the climax was the Allan Cup, after that we had different interests,” said Merkel, who played on the ‘92/‘93 champion team.

“We were all getting older anyway and the ultimate goal that we were striving for was realized and there wasn’t much more for us to do.

“It’s a shame (that the Huskies disappeared) because it really brought the calibre of hockey up in the Yukon.”

A meeting will be held for potential players at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse, followed by the first on-ice portion at noon. The following tryout will happen Tuesday evening at the same location. If interested in learning more, potential players can contact Merkel at 334-8770.

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