The Northern Avalanche, Yukon’s female rep team, is swapping their jerseys for Whitehorse red and black.
Starting this upcoming season, the Avalanche team will be Mustangs, becoming members of the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association’s representation club.
“It’s exciting for us. We’re becoming a part of a bigger family,” said Avalanche head coach Louis Bouchard. “I think we have a very good program, but so do they, and merging can only be good for both sides.”
The female Mustangs team, which will join six male, rep squads in the organization, will benefit from programs and fundraising initiatives.
However, the main benefit will be the commitment to maintain the female team in the future.
“With the success the program has had over the last couple of years, the time was right to become Mustangs,” said Bouchard. “It won’t change much of the program over the next couple years because I intend be involved. Should I decide to take a year off, at least I know someone else will have to step in – Whitehorse Minor will have to make it work.
“Now as a Mustang (team), they will automatically be included in anything Whitehorse Minor plans.”
Historically in the Yukon, female teams were assembled to compete at the Canada Winter Games or at the Arctic Winter Games. The Northern Avalanche, which was originally created for the 2007 Canada Winter Games, is the first to remain intact after the fact, to play in a Whitehorse league and to attend Outside tournaments.
“After the Games, the program kind of died by itself because the coaches’ kids had gone through the program and nobody was handling it,” said Bouchard. “I took it upon myself to revive it, I guess, four years ago.
“Over the years we tried to become Mustangs, but the timing was never right. It was either the Avalanche parents didn’t want to become Mustangs, or Whitehorse Minor had too much on their plate and couldn’t take another team.
“This year, the timing was right.”
This season the female team will continue to play in the Whitehorse’s bantam house league, will compete at the BC provincials and will be returning to the Wickenheiser International Women’s Hockey Festival this November in Burnaby, BC. (At last year’s Wickenheiser tourney, the Avalanche out-scored the competition 23-1 over five games to win gold in their division.)
The female Mustangs are also in talks with a Fairbanks, Alaska, team, about a four-game series in Whitehorse this November.
“They will also bring a younger team to play the younger girls team that is playing in Whitehorse Minor,” said Bouchard.
Team trials for the female Mustangs will begin September 9 and will wrap up on the 25th. Though the Whitehorse Mustangs, players from the communities are strongly recommended to try out for the team.
“We do encourage community girls to come out and try out for the team, the same as every other year,” said Bouchard. “There’s no way we could run a midget program the way we have been with just the female players from Whitehorse. We need the talents, the skills and bodies that are out there in the communities.”
In strong contrast to any of the male Mustang teams, last year’s Avalanche starting lineup of 18 players contained 10 from the communities.
For more information, contact Bouchard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Tom Patrick at