Northern hockey players will be given a chance to showcase their skills in front of B.C. scouts next week.
A prospect camp spearheaded by the Trail Smoke Eaters club from the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), a Junior A league, will take place in Whitehorse, May 19-21.
“I’m not sure there’s been anything like this in Whitehorse before, with three or four junior teams interested, with the intention to draw players from all over the North,” said Hockey Yukon president Carl Burgess.
“They’re choosing Whitehorse over a lot of other locations in a huge region that includes (the) northwest United States and parts east,” he added. “That’s how big it is, how potent this opportunity could be.”
Joining scouts from the Smoke Eaters will be ones from the Beaver Valley Nighthawks from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), a Junior B league, as well as the Kootenay Ice from B.C. Hockey’s Major Midget League.
They will be searching out players born between 1998 and 2002.
“The BCHL is one of the premier junior A leagues in the west,” said Burgess. “They have a great record of moving players on to fantastic careers and scholarships. In the BCHL, you can still maintain scholarship eligibility in that league.
“The KIJHL is the top of the class for junior B.”
Not only are there already Yukon players on junior teams down south, some teams have multiple players from the territory on the roster.
Wyatt Gale, Jarrett Malchow and Riley Pettitt made up the “Yukon line” on the KIJHL’s Summerland Steam last season.
Johnny Elias, Matthew Cooper, Niall Lawrie all played for the Kootenay Ice major midget team this past season.
“The Smoke Eaters approached us. They were noticing more and more Northern talent — Yukon talent — in major midget leagues and junior leagues and decided to make this part of their recruiting and prospect network,” said Burgess.
The prospect camp will consist of a competitive scrimmage format — basically a mini tournament in which players are separated onto teams.
There will also be a development skills camp for younger players born 2003 and up the same weekend.
“It’s nice that people recognize there’s a strong hockey market up here — strong talent-wise, if not huge in numbers,” said Burgess. “Whitehorse is a natural node for players to come in from Alaska, N.W.T. and northern B.C. We expect to see players from all those jurisdictions here.”
“It’s new, so we’re not expecting to pack the rafters full of players, but we know there’s lots of interest and this is a huge value for any midget player,” he added. “It would save the cost of all the travel down south. To have one at home is a huge value, especially with three teams involved. There’s rarely camps down south hosted by more than one team.”
For more information contact Burgess at (867) 333-4900 or Steve Robinson, operations manager for the Smoke Eaters, at (250) 231-8489.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org